Under the guise of fighting the war on drugs, law enforcement
can seize your home, car, or money without ever charging you with a crime.
This practice is known as civil asset forfeiture, and it is arguably one
of the most abused police powers in America today.
In more than 80 percent of the cases, the owner of the property
is never even charged with a crime, much less convicted.
There is no limit on the assets law enforcement can seize
for even the smallest violation. If an agent were to find a marijuana plant
growing in someone's backyard, they could seize the entire house, along
with vehicles and anything else on the property.
Rep. Henry Hyde has introduced civil asset forfeiture
legislation in every session of Congress since 1993 and introduced it in
early May this year. Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform would:
Force the government to prove that seized property is related
to a crime, as opposed to the current practice¯¹Hproperty owners having
to prove that their property is innocent;
Create an "innocent owner defense," whereby property owners
unaware of criminal activity occurring on their property could recover
Provide indigent defendants with appointed counsel;
Eliminate the costly bond requirement, which currently requires
property owners to pay up to $5,000 or 10 percent of the seized property's
value to contest the seizure in court;
Provide compensation for property damage caused by federal
Extend the time for filing a claim to contest a forfeiture;
Provide prevailing property owners with compensatory interest
in certain situations.
What You Can Do
1. Make as generous a contribution as you can to the
Drug Policy Foundation to support their work on civil asset forfeiture
and other drug policy reform efforts.
2. Write letters to the editor and talk with your elected
representatives about this issue and how it is a gross violation of
our rights as citizens. Make the following points:
CAFR would protect people's property rights, which are currently
being undermined by abuses of civil asset forfeiture laws;
CAFR would put the burden of proof where it belongs ‹ on
the government. The American system of government was built on the concept
of innocent until proven guilty, and civil asset forfeiture proceedings
should be no different;
CAFR will protect innocent owners who do not know about,
or who attempt to stop, criminal activity from occurring on their property;
CAFR will protect poor people's due process rights by ensuring
they have access to an attorney.
The Drug Policy Foundation 4455 Connecticut Ave NW Suite B-500
Washington, DC 20008-2328
tel: (202) 537-5005
fax: (202) 537-3007
email: firstname.lastname@example.org web: www.dpf.org