Last month, the United States government policy on civil asset forfeiture became a topic of heated discussion after Attorney General Jeff Sessions pushed for more police seizures of cash and property. For drug attorney Daniel Stockmann and others working especially with drug charge cases, asset forfeiture comes up frequently. With this new expansion to the policy, focus will be redirected to seizing more assets particularly from drug traffickers. Controversy has arisen over the profits government will make from these asset seizures and the ethics behind the law.
Law Enforcement Agencies Profit from Forfeiture, Raising Questions About Motives
According to information from the United States Department of Justice, the civil asset forfeiture policy involves law enforcement officials seizing assets, such as cash or property, that are either profits from federal crimes or used to facilitate them. The idea is that seizing these certain assets will uphold society’s safety by taking power and motive away from criminals. This has been a controversial subject in the United States for many reasons. One is that a criminal charge is not necessary for asset forfeiture at the federal level nor in most states. Only thirteen states do not practice civil forfeiture unless there has been a criminal conviction. More often than not, cash or property can be taken permanently simply based on suspicion of a crime.
Critics of this policy find a problem with the many states that allow law enforcement agencies to keep any cash that they take from individuals. Agencies that participate in this raise many questions as to their motives behind asset seizures. According to an article published by the Washington Post in 2014, federal law enforcement officials seized more property from individuals than burglars stole from citizens that year. A new statistic has revealed that the Drug Enforcement Administration alone has taken more than $3 billion cash from citizens since 2007. These citizens had not been charged with any crime.
Unethical Practices in Drug Trafficking Cases
Jeff Sessions has argued for increased asset forfeitures, particularly of drug traffickers. Though adoptive forfeiture, a practice that allowed local law enforcement officials to share profits with federal officials, had been curtailed, Sessions believes that it is an appropriate way to handle these proceeds. This concerns many because it may lead to more unethical practices from law enforcement officials in hopes of gaining a profit.
Because drug trafficking involves such large sums of money, local agencies in most states can make huge profits without a conviction. The American Civil Liberties Union in Oklahoma has made civil forfeiture an area of focus in their investigations. They have discovered that police tend to follow where the cash from drug trafficking travels rather than following the drugs themselves. By following the cash, officials essentially let the trafficking commence so that they can stop individuals in their paths and seize the money. This supports critics’ theories that law enforcement agencies are driven more by potential profit than securing citizen safety.
Get Professional Support with Omaha Drug Attorney Daniel Stockmann
Though Nebraska is not a state with lax policy on civil forfeiture, there are still many situations of wrongful tactics employed by law enforcement in drug charges. Daniel Stockmann is a knowledgeable and experienced drug attorney practicing in Omaha, Nebraska. He has been providing legal defense for 15 years, specializing in clients dealing with drug charges. As a drug attorney with extensive knowledge regarding wrongful tactics and unethical practices, Stockmann has been able to successfully defend clients in nearly every country along I-80, a hotbed for drug trafficking and arrests. If you or someone you know has been wrongfully charged, fill out the free case evaluation form on this page or call (844) 906-0641 today.