Law enforcement departments across the country use civil asset forfeiture as a method to fund the work of law enforcement departments under the guise of combatting the “War on Drugs.” Attorney General Jeff Sessions made in- creasing civil asset forfeiture a DOJ priority. If civil asset forfeiture continues to rise to the level that Attorney General Sessions would like to see it, then we will soon find ourselves fighting to keep what is rightfully ours. This Comment will argue that the government should be required to prove that the owner of forfeited property had actual knowledge that the property was connected to an underlying crime.
Dick M. Carpenter, Director for the Institute for Justice, believes that civil asset forfeiture is a thing of the past that today’s legal system should eschew. Civil asset forfeiture plays a relevant role in contemporary law enforcement, but additional safeguards should be enacted to ensure that civil asset forfeiture is not used at the expense of citizens’ property rights.
Uniform reporting reform regarding forfeiture should occur amongst the states, and the government must prove that the innocent owner is not innocent. This is not to say that the government is required to succeed in a criminal prosecution before property can be forfeited, but this Comment argues that the government must prove from the onset that any owner of the property is not innocent and detached from the crime. Property owners should never be forced to prove their innocence without the constitutional protections guaranteed in criminal courts.
Guilty Until Proven Innocent: Rethinking Civil Asset Forfeiture and the Innocent Owner Defense,
Tex. A&M J. Prop. L.
Available at: https://doi.org/10.37419/JPL.V5.I3.10