July 27, 2007

Cailfornia Supreme Court Restricts Asset Forfeiture Laws

By Cailfornia Supreme Court Restricts Asset Forfeiture Laws

by Timothy Sandefur

Along with eminent domain, one of the worst abuses of property rights in America is the concept of civil asset forfeiture. Here is a good article explaining the concept, by Roger Pilon of the Cato Institute. (And a more in-depth one.)

On Thursday, the California Supreme Court restricted the abuse of civil asset forfeiture in a case arising from the City of Stockton, where local officials were using the power to take cars of people who were merely accused, but not convicted, of soliciting prostitutes and similar acts. Here's the decision.

Here is one of the most pernicious facts about civil asset forfeiture:

Forfeited vehicles are to be sold; the proceeds are used first to pay any "bona fide or innocent purchaser…" of the vehicle…. After paying the costs of publishing the notice of the forfeiture action and of storing, repairing and selling the vehicle, remaining funds are distributed in proportionate shares to the involved prosecuting and law enforcement agencies.

In other words, prosecution for profit.

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