FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida. It is a little-known policy that most Americans don’t know about. The Obama administration began reforming the policy. Jeff Sessions and his Department of Justice have brought it back by toughening laws that support it. It’s called civil forfeiture and it’s a law that gives police the right to take your car and other property if you are facing criminal charges. Police don’t even have to get a conviction in court. Citizens who are later exonerated may face serious challenges getting their property back after it has been taken.
According to Slate, police agencies don’t want to see civil forfeiture laws go away. These laws allow police agencies to seize assets from suspected criminals. In some districts, these seizures are critical to funding the force. Yet, when officers have a financial incentive to take property, people’s rights can be violated. In fact, in some districts, the police forces are funded through civil forfeiture.
For instance, in many states, officers can seize property without evidence, due process, without a conviction, and without linking the property to a crime. Police can seize anything from your car to your house without even charging you with a crime. Because you don’t face criminal charges, you won’t be entitled to legal defense from a public defender. Many of the targeted individuals are poor and don’t have the money to afford a criminal defense lawyer. For instance, without laws regulating civil forfeiture, police can take your car after a DUI stop or arrest, if they claim that the car may be used in drug trafficking or other illegal activity. Then, it is up to you to fight to get your property back.
According to Time Magazine, civil forfeiture allows law enforcement to take money or property without a criminal conviction and even without filing charges. Individuals can fight to get their property back, but the process is complex and tough to navigate without a defense lawyer.
Every state’s laws are different. In Florida, for instance, law enforcement must show that the asset was linked to a crime. In Florida, you must have been arrested and charged with a crime, but the law doesn’t prevent officers from taking your property until after you have undergone due process. This means that in the eyes of the law, your property is theirs whether or not you are proven guilty in a court of law.
However, these protective state laws may not protect you. Attorney General Jeff Sessions just reinstated federal adoptions, meaning that officers can circumvent state laws to collect property, sometimes without filing criminal charges and without getting a conviction. The Justice Department has also removed records of civil forfeiture from its website, making it harder to hold law enforcement accountable when they take people’s property.
If you are facing civil forfeiture of your car, cash, or home, a criminal defense lawyer may be able to protect your rights. Direnzo Defense is a criminal defense lawyer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida who fights for the rights of those facing DUI and other charges. Don’t put your freedom, property, and rights at risk. Speak to Direnzo Defense today or visit us at www.fortlauderdaledefenselawfirm.com to learn more.