Without even needing to charge someone with a crime, law enforcement can seize and keep cash, cars and even homes, by exercising civil forfeiture. Now the Institute for Justice has uncovered recordings of government officials from across the country making unsettling comments about this controversial power:
• One city attorney called his legal documents a “masterpiece of deception” and has won 96 percent of his forfeiture cases.
• An assistant district attorney takes property, even from owners who have been acquitted, because “people are not found innocent, they are found not guilty.”
• One government official doesn’t want to disclose information about civil forfeiture, because it might become a “bullet-point for people that are trying to fight the program.”
• A prosecutor teaches other attorneys how to take property from innocent people. He even offers this piece of advice, “IF IN DOUBT…TAKE IT!”