On the way home one night you get pulled over by the police. As far as you know you haven’t done anything wrong and the cop seems civil enough. He pulled you over because he saw your car swerve and wanted to make sure you weren’t driving drunk. You prove you haven’t been drinking and just as you think you’re good to go he asks, “Mind if I inspect your car?” You’re a little taken aback. You have nothing to hide, but conversely you haven’t done anything wrong either. You’re pretty sure you didn’t swerve, but hey, whatever. You tell him you do mind as you’re in a hurry.
By Jarhead Survivor, a contributing author
Wrong answer. He now tells you he suspects you of drug dealing and has you sit there while a K9 unit is called. The dog alerts next to your front quarter panel and pretty soon the cops have confiscated your car and the $1000 in cash you had with you to buy the supplies for your business. Their reasoning? This is obviously drug money because who rides around in a vehicle these days with that much money on them?
Your crime? Being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The chances of you getting your money back are slim and here’s the real kick in the nuts – they don’t even have to accuse you of a crime; just have a suspicion that the money was going to be used in a crime. In order to get your money back you’ll need to get a lawyer and fight for it, which can sometimes cost more than the money taken in the first place. You’re screwed. Welcome to Civil Asset Forfeiture. One of the weapons against the war on drugs run amok. What – exactly – is Civil Asset Forfeiture?
Civil asset forfeiture is a legal tool that allows law enforcement officials to seize property that they assert has been involved in certain criminal activity. In fact, the owner of the property doesn’t even need to be guilty of a crime: Civil asset forfeiture proceedings charge the property itself with involvement in a crime. This means that police can seize your car, home, money, or valuables without ever having to charge you with a crime. There are many, many stories of innocent people being stripped of their money and property by law enforcement.
CNN Video: Civil Asset Forfeiture
This is one of those crazy laws used by police to inflate their coffers. Not only can they take your cash they can confiscate your vehicle or anything they suspect has been used in a crime. You might get to walk away, but your guilty money is confiscated and put to good use by the police force. Crazy eh? Some departments even have a wish list when deciding which of your goodies they want. And where do they learn how to do this? Places like Desert Snow charge considerable sums of money to train officers how to take your money and other valuables out on our nations highways.
Good Intentions Gone Bad
The original intention of this law was to stop drugs from being transported across the country’s highways and to put a hurting on the drug dealers by taking their money. To be fair the police have found large amounts of drugs and drug money and taken it off the road; however, when an innocent man or woman is basically robbed by the people who are supposedly out there to protect us I have a problem. You should have a problem with that too.
Basically what has happened in these cases is that police officers misidentify someone who isn’t a drug runner or someone committing a crime as someone who is. Whether it was because the people stopped were acting nervous or otherwise signaling (in the officer’s eyes) that something else was going on, or simply because the cop sees the money and wants it and then comes up with justification to take it. It’s immaterial to the person who got stopped. The end result is the same: their money is confiscated and chances of getting it back are pretty slim.
Check out this video from The Washington Post. It’s a real eye opener!
In 2011 Civil Asset Forfeiture brought in over 250 million dollars after a steady incline of funds seized from the 1980’s. That’s 250 million in one year – not in total. Some cops boast that they have taken in millions – and good luck getting your money back even if you’re innocent.
It’s all good when it’s just bad guy’s getting their money, cars, houses, etc. confiscated, but when innocent people start getting caught up in the dragnet it’s too bad for them. Gotta crack a few eggs to make an omelet right? It only sucks when you’re one of the eggs. The next time you’re going to make a road trip another question you’ll have to ask yourself is, “Is it worth it carrying a large amount of cash with me?”
The answer to this question used to be determined by the chances of getting robbed by a bad guy, but now the odds have gone up because if you get pulled over by one of the “good guys” and you act a little nervous or they smell money, chances are good you’ll lose it then too.
Gone is the freedom to carry cash without fear of it being stolen. It’s a sad situation we find ourselves in and just another nail in the coffin of rights we’re giving up all in the name of security. The War on Drugs, 9/11, the NSA spying on us and everybody else in the world, it’s all part of the same journey.
I’ve talked to people who are ok with this. “Hey, if it means I’ll be safer doing <name activity here>, then I guess it’s ok.” If you’re happy with that situation then you shouldn’t be reading this blog. I like to think that the folks who come here are a little more in touch with our pioneer ancestor spirit hen the person happy to trade in their freedom for the perception of safety, because if you think you’re safe having the authorities watch out for you just look at how Civil Asset Forfeiture is helping out the average citizen. Look at the number of police shootings caught on film lately. Still feel safe?
Am I calling for a return to the wild west? Of course not. Well, maybe. If it means we take charge of lives then yeah, maybe I am. What do you think? Are you ok with giving up our rights for the illusion of safety?
Sound off below!