And You Probably
Won’t Be getting Any of It Back
Yet another ongoing government authoritarian problem is the rampant abuse of civil forfeiture. Which is where federal, state and local Leviathans seize personal property of all sorts. Often when someone is merely suspected of – not charged with – a crime. Often when the tie between the property and any criminal activity is at best tangential.
These people often never get their property back – even if charges are never filed. Because the laws are written by government to rig the system – for government. In a criminal case, you are innocent until proven guilty. In a civil forfeiture case, this fundamental freedom tenet is turned on its head. The burden of proof is on the property owner – they must convince the government that they obtained the government-seized property lawfully. And often even that isn’t enough. From 1998:
Police stopped 49-year-old Ethel Hylton at Houston’s Hobby Airport and told her she was under arrest because a drug dog had scratched at her luggage. Agents searched her bags and strip-searched her, but they found no drugs.
They did find $39,110 in cash, money she had received from an insurance settlement and her life savings; accumulated through over 20 years of work as a hotel housekeeper and hospital janitor.
Ethel Hylton completely documented where she got the money and was never charged with a crime. But the police kept her money anyway. Nearly four years later, she is still trying to get her money back. More