House votes to curb asset seizures

The House voted Tuesday to curb the law enforcement practice of seizing cash and property from people who are suspected of illegal activity but who have not necessarily been charged.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers pushed an amendment to a government-spending package for 2018 that would prohibit the Trump administration from using funds to remove restrictions on the use of asset forfeiture. The practice allows law enforcement to seize cash and property and keep at least part of the proceeds.

Opposition to relaxing asset-forfeiture limits produced a strange-bedfellows effort by members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus and liberal progressives. Sponsors of the amendment included Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and Don Beyer (D-Va.).

Their amendment would specifically restrict the use of what’s known as “adoptive forfeiture,” which allows the federal government to take assets seized by local authorities.

Critics say that the practice has allowed local authorities to circumvent state laws that were stricter than under federal statute. About two dozen states have laws that make it harder for authorities to seize property if a person has not been convicted of a crime.


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  • Jackson Brannon

    If they haven’t been convicted of a crime then leave their property ALONE!!!!

    • Terry Butts

      In most cases they are not even CHARGED with a crime they simply POSSESSED a certain amount of cash that in most cases would not even pay for a decent computer but GOVERNMENT officials decided that it was a CRIME just to posses that amount. Usually the same OFFICIALS that also arrested people on vagrancy charges for not carrying a SET MINIMUM amount of cash.

      • InspGadget

        Generally, although assets are seized as incident to arrest or part of an investigation. Usually, if the person is aquitted or charges are dropped, the property is subject to return to the owner.
        Additionally, it has not been illegal to be a vagrant ( a person without visible means of support) since the 1980s U.S.Supreme Court Sundance case.
        So, you are sadly misinformed.

        • Terry Butts

          I look to the ACTUAL information not what is legally allowed.

          1) a RETIRED DA in NY lost his entire apartment complex because ONE TENANT was a drug dealer they claimed this made his rent DRUG INCOME and took the property of the man NEVER CHARGED with a crime.

          2) At the border to California they set up a CHECK point and STOLE without charging anyone with a crime the money people were bringing to a GOVERNMENT approved cash only auction that was being held the items could total thousands in bids so they had cash that exceeded what they considered to be ONLY CARRIED if they were involved in some criminal act like drug dealing.

          3) They ATTEMPTED to seize a COMMERCIAL CRUISE SHIP claiming the one crew member TURNED in to police for possession had used the cruise ship to SMUGGLE the small amount he had with the boat the OWNERS of the boat were not charged or even suspected of using the boat for drug smuggling.

          This is just a few of the stories where PROPERTY seized was not a result of an investigation or arrest in most cases NO CHARGES ARE EVER FILED and the property is only returned if the victims are wealthy enough to SUE the government to get it back and PROVE they were not guilty of a crime.

          4) MANY places still arrest people for being vagrants or homeless they just use a different name for the charge.

  • David Lewis

    give back and/or compensate for what has been taken with no reason

  • Ron C

    The government should NOT take a damn thing unless there is a conviction….period!

  • jon

    let us also change the law so that the irs has to follow the same rules as the rest of us

  • Terry Butts

    “to curb the law enforcement practice of seizing cash and property from
    people who are suspected of illegal activity but who have not
    necessarily been charged.”

    The constitution is clear without being CONVICTED of a crime by A JUDGE & JURY who ordered it taken as part of the punishment or JUST COMPENSATION BEING PAID TO THEM for the property the government cannot take someones property.

    The UNCONSTITUTIONAL dictate that just having a certain amount of CASH on ones person equals automatic GUILT of something illegal is not a trial or conviction and taking that cash simply because they HAVE IT ON THEM instead of in a bank constitutes THEFT.

    MANY places ESPECIALLY CERTAIN PROPERTY AUCTIONS do not take checks or CREDIT CARDS from people.

    One of the GRIEVANCES against the former government prior to the AMERICAN revolution was the CONFISCATION of property based on UNPROVEN ACCUSATIONS of crime for example if some OFFICIAL wanted someone’s property and had more influence in the government than them all it took would be to ACCUSE the other of treason with no trial or conviction EVERYTHING they owned would be TAKEN from them usually GIVEN as a reward to the one that MADE THE ACCUSATION.

    • B.S. Melton

      Thank you so much, Mr. Butts, for bringing us this knowledge. I found it very accurate on how the
      law stands. Without Due Process, according to Constitutional Law, they are in error if they do
      attempt to take anything . The problem they may run into is the fact that some of the previous
      administration, who did their best to override our laws, are still in certain positions. Would appreciate it if you could advise on what our people can do, should this occur. Again, thanks
      so much for your time and work on your article. 🙂 I love to see and hear from informed citizens
      such as yourself.

      • Terry Butts

        If one is a victim of this type of property taking they would need a lawyer versed in constitutional and property laws that will take the case to court as well as make sure the case ends up in the correct type of court.

        So many times these cases when they do go to court wind up in regulatory courts that are only concerned if a “LAW” or ordinance exists not if that law is constitutional or its actions violated the person’s rights.

        Other than that we can vote out of office any politician, judge, or person in any other government position held upon election that promotes or supports these seizures looking only at the income it generates for the government rather than the violation of the rights of the people who’s property or money they took without any proof they were involved in any crime.

        Just a few of the more known examples of property taking or attempted taking.

        One case that actually made it into the news several years back involved a family that was REMOVED from their home with virtually no notice based on the CONFESSION to get a lesser sentence from a drug addict that named a place over a hundred miles away from the place he was arrested as the house he supposedly JUST purchased the drugs he was about to use that was in his possession.

        without any trial or proof they were actually involved GOVERNMENT agents acting as if no criminal ever lies just to get a reduced sentence used his accusation to SEIZE their house. Just showing up one day with no warning telling them they no longer owned their home the government had seized it based on that accusation without a trial or opportunity to provide a defense against the accusation. Essentially stating they had to SUE the government and PROVE they were innocent to get their property back.

        That does not even cover the more famous instance of when they tried to steal a cruise ship when the captain COMPLIED with international law and turned in the crew member caught in possession of drugs to the nearest authorities even when the amount was not even enough to get that crew member charged with trafficking they still claimed the SHIP was used to smuggle the drugs he had on his person giving them the AUTHORITY to seize the ship.

        Or the case back in the 80s when a RETIRED DA in NY lost his apartment complex because ONE drug dealer made through his screening process and the GOVERNMENT claimed that made the RENT he received from the individual DRUG PROFITS. (I guess the TEN plus drug dealers arrested after the government took over and REPLACED all his tenants don’t count) By the time he PROVED his innocence the place had to be condemned because all the wiring and plumbing had been torn out by the ones the GOVERNMENT felt were better tenants for the place.

  • Jmanjo

    I don’t think it has ever been RIGHT to just seize property on the notion someone must have done something wrong to have money or valuables on them! That is criminal seizure and the government, be it federal or local, should not have that right unless there is an actual conviction!

    • Joe Fratz

      Assets seizers is just another way for the government to make money.

  • Texas Belle

    This practice is a subversion of the law. No one should be deprived of their property until and unless they have been convicted.

  • Gardener8

    There was no question about the practice of seizure without conviction being abuse of power.
    It certainly gave an advantage to local enforcement budgets even though it was patently illegal.

  • Bruce Kellar

    Gee, do we need to wonder about the state of our nation? This law and practice stinks and seems more in line with the actions of a deceitful King. If the personal property is stolen or attained by deceit then possibly once a conviction is final this should happen to make the aggrieved as whole as possible but to just grab and run for the pleasure of the cops is criminal itself. Still today the best system of trade is with cash. Checks are scary to accept and credit cards charge a fee many business folks are not willing to relinquish. Wish I had some cash, I could make better deals.

  • MikeRazar

    Has SCOTUS weighed in on this yet? I do not see how they could find it constitutional. - 2015 | Privacy Policy