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Civil forfeiture

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Lawmakers eye reforms for Texas asset forfeitures. After hearing horror stories about innocent owners losing their property and officials using seized funds to party or travel, Texas legislators are seeking to reform state asset forfeiture laws. Under the Texas law aimed at funding law enforcement and hitting criminals where it hurts — their wallets — people can have their property confiscated even if they’re never charged with a crime. Such laws are widely accepted around the nation as a way to fight crime by depriving suspected criminals of ill-gotten gains. Every year, cars, cellphones, computers, cash and even real estate, are seized from people connected to crimes and the proceeds given to local law enforcement. But a 2008 report by the Texas Senate Committee on Criminal Justice declared that the crime fighting tool has “become a profit-making, personal account for some law enforcement officials.”

Forfeiture should be used “specifically for law enforcement,” said Sen. The amount of money at issue varies widely. What the bill would do: DA Howard spent seized money on dinners, home security. Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard is defending his use of thousands of dollars in public money spent on pricey dinners, tickets and an elaborate home security system. Five years of records obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution found thousands of dollars in questionable spending. The expenditures came from a pool of state drug forfeiture money, seized because prosecutors believe it is connected to crime. The money is separate from the county budget and intended to be used for law enforcement and office expenses. Channel 2 investigative reporter Jodie Fleischer scheduled a one-on-one interview with Howard about the spending on Friday, however Howard put multiple stipulations in place for the interview. When Fleischer arrived at the courthouse the district attorney cancelled the interview and called a news conference where he made a statement defending himself and did not answer specific questions about the spending.

"It's shocking. Guilty_Property_Report_-_FINAL.pdf. How Philadelphia seizes millions in ‘pocket change’ from some of the city’s poorest residents. Philadelphia City Hall at night. (Michael Righi/Flickr) Each year, Philadelphia cops take millions of dollars in cash from city residents under the state's civil asset forfeiture laws. Roughly one-third of these residents -- 1,500 of them -- are never convicted of a crime. And much of their money -- about $2.2 million a year -- goes directly into the coffers of the Philadelphia district attorney's office, which oversees the forfeiture process.

Those are the conclusions of a new report by the American Civil Liberties Union about forfeiture in the city of brotherly love. Civil asset forfeiture allows law enforcement officers to take cash and property from people they suspect of a crime. Asset forfeiture laws initially took wing in the late 1980s and early 1990s, at the height of the drug war. [Stop and seize: Aggressive police take hundreds of millions of dollars from motorists not charged with crimes] But the reality of asset forfeiture today is far different, as the ACLU report shows. IRS Seizes Hundreds Of Perfectly Legal Bank Accounts, Refuses To Give Money Back. The Internal Revenue Service has been seizing bank accounts belonging to small businesses and individuals who regularly made deposits of less than $10,000, but broke no laws.

And the government is refusing to return all the money taken. The practice ‒ called civil asset forfeiture ‒ allows IRS agents to seize property they suspect of being tied to a crime, even if no charges are filed, and their agency is allowed to keep a share of whatever is forfeited, the New York Times reported. It’s designed to catch drug traffickers, racketeers and terrorists by tracking cash deposits under $10,000, which is the threshold for when banks are federally required to report activity to the IRS under the Bank Secrecy Act. It is not illegal to deposit less than $10,000 in cash, unless it is specifically done to avoid triggering the federal reporting requirement, known as structuring. Carole Hinders, a victim of civil asset forfeiture, owns a cash-only Mexican restaurant in Iowa. Army Sgt. Source: RT. Civil Forfeiture. Police Use Department Wish List When Deciding Which Assets to Seize -

Photo The seminars offered police officers some useful tips on seizing property from suspected criminals. Don’t bother with jewelry (too hard to dispose of) and computers (“everybody’s got one already”), the experts counseled. Do go after flat screen TVs, cash and cars. Especially nice cars. In one seminar, captured on video in September, Harry S. Connelly Jr., the city attorney of Las Cruces, N.M., called them “little goodies.”

And then Mr. “A guy drives up in a 2008 Mercedes, brand new,” he explained. Mr. Continue reading the main story Video The practice of civil forfeiture has come under fire in recent months, amid a spate of negative press reports and growing outrage among civil rights advocates, libertarians and members of Congress who have raised serious questions about the fairness of the practice, which critics say runs roughshod over due process rights. From Orange County, N.Y., to Rio Rancho, N.M., forfeiture operations are being established or expanded. In an interview, Mr. IRS Backs Down, Returns Seized Cash To Family Businesses. U.S. Attorney in L.A. Drops Forfeiture Cases Against Dispensary Landlords. USDOJThe OC Weekly's Nick Schou reports that the U.S.

Justice Department has dropped a forfeiture case against an Anaheim office building whose owner rented space to a medical marijuana dispensary, thinking it counted as a legitimate business in light of the signals the feds were sending at the time. After insisting at a hearing last December that they were "absolutely" proceeding with the forfeiture despite a judge's doubts, federal prosecutors changed their minds in recent months. At first they insisted that Tony Jalali, the software engineer who owns the $1.5 million property, promise never to deal with dispensaries again and agree to surprise inspections.

In the end they were satisfied to be off the hook for Jalali's legal fees, in return for which they dismissed the case with prejudice, meaning it cannot be brought again. Today the U.S. [Thanks to Gustavo Arellano for the tip.] Big Brother's Stop-and-Snatch Asset Forfeiture Boom. Florida Cops Made Millions Dealing Cocaine: The Latest Asset Forfeiture Outrage. Federal Case Could Make It Easier For Victims To Defend Themselves Against Civil Forfeiture. Federal Case Could Make It Easier For Victims To Defend Themselves Against Civil Forfeiture. Private Property | The Institute for Justice. Private Property Rights “The abuse of eminent domain has become a national plague, and the Institute for Justice is fighting to end it.” —The Boston Globe For half a century, unrestrained local and state governments have taken private property not for "public uses"—such as for bridges or public buildings—as permitted by the Constitution, but for private businesses in the name of "economic development.

" Private homes and businesses have been bulldozed, replaced by newer businesses and homes owned not by the public, but by private, politically powerful individuals and corporations. The Institute for Justice began its fight against eminent domain abuse by successfully defending Vera Coking, an elderly widow from Atlantic City, against the condemnation of her home by a state agency that sought to take her property and transfer it (at a bargain-basement price) to another private individual: Donald Trump.