Civil Asset Forfeiture – Guilty Until Proven Innocent

Perhaps no tenant is stronger in the foundation of the American criminal legal system than that one is innocent until proven guilty.  Unfortunately, the practice of civil asset forfeiture – a practice that is expanding across America by local policing agencies – is used to take the belongings of individuals and not giving them back to the individuals without those individual proving that they are not involved in some sort of criminal enterprise.  Unfortunately, many times it is more costly for the individuals to hire attorneys to prove that the assets that have been taken by the police are not criminal in nature.  So the police and local government agencies pocket the proceeds of the seized goods, which can include cash, cars and homes, and use those proceeds for their own ends – even if it has nothing to do with policing.

Now this all seems fishy and completely unconstitutional.  Isn’t there a law to the effect that someone is innocent until proven guilty?  Yes, there is!  That is perhaps the biggest problem with civil asset forfeiture.  Instead of the government proving that the assets seized were part of a crime – that the person is guilty, the onus is placed upon the individual to show that they are innocent.  There is a perverse incentive for cops to keep any seized property for their own benefit and screw the innocent people that have had the property seized.  Civil asset forfeiture completely turns the the fundamentals of the American Legal system on its head.

To show how civil asset forfeiture works, here are two videos showing how civil asset forfeiture is a racket that is used by police and government agencies across America.  The first video is from the Institute for Justice, the second is from the Daily Show which did an expose on the practice and how it is such a lucrative practice for police departments and a difficulty for the individuals who are unfortunately caught in the web of civil asset forfeiture.  We must stand up to civil asset forfeiture and fight for our rights as American citizens to retain our property until proven guilty, not be required to prove that we are innocent.

 

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Happy 4th of July from The Law Office of Zachary Bushatz

The Law Office of Zachary Bushatz wishes you a happy 4th of July weekend.  I take liberty seriously at my law office and in my personal life.  Whether it is liberty from the tyranny of government enforced criminal laws or liberating yourself from debt, I can help you gain independence from whatever shackles of oppression are holding you back.Thomas Jefferson

One of my favorite quotes regarding liberty is from Thomas Jefferson who said “Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’ because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.”  Although we must respect the rights of others, we are entitled to liberty naturally and must understand that the law is often imposed by those in power to keep hold on their position.  If you have had your liberty encumbered, please feel free to contact me and I will help you regain your liberty that you rightly deserve.

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5 Recent Trends That Make It Hard To Trust The Police

Police misconduct has rightfully begun to attract scrutiny from both the media and consequently the public at large.  Police are public servants, but many times their duty of serving and protecting has devolved into outright abuses of their powers to those they serve.  This article gives five examples of recent trends in policing that has eroded the public’s trust in police. 

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Bad Cop Blotter

I first started following Lucy Steigerwald’s writing when she wrote for Reason Magazine.  She is now writing for Vice.com in  a weekly piece called the Bad Cop Blotter.  The Bad Cop Blotter collects stories of police misconduct from around the country and makes an article of it all.  Since I take a special interest in civil rights issues and police misconduct in particular, I will try to share this article with you each week.  I hope you enjoy.