A recent study released by the Institute for Justice, a libertarian-leading public interest law firm, calls into question a number of justifications for civil asset forfeiture. Contrary to claims by law enforcement, seizing property from criminal suspects does not appear to meaningfully reduce crime rates or lessen drug use. Far from being used to fight major drug traffickers, civil asset forfeiture is usually deployed against the poor and people of color.
If you are pulled over for OWI, stay awake. You lose some of the constitution's protection if you pass out, according to a new ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. If you remain awake, law enforcement officers must obtain a warrant before drawing your blood for a chemical test. If you're unconscious, however, they can draw your blood without bothering to get a warrant.
Terance Gamble was convicted of second-degree robbery and domestic violence charges in Alabama, both of which made it illegal for him to purchase or carry firearms under Alabama and federal law. In 2015, he was pulled over for a missing headlight. An officer searched his car and found marijuana and a handgun.
Should criticizing the police get you charged with criminal harassment? Not if you didn't make any threats, according to the ACLU and an Adams County man. Nevertheless, the man was charged with harassment in the third degree when he criticized the behavior of an Adams County Sheriff's deputy.
Would you let a stranger in a lab coat search through your phone? What about a police officer? How about if you had a good reason to refuse, such as evidence of a crime?
Sometimes, the non-court consequences of criminal activity are as serious as the consequences of a conviction. These "collateral consequences," however, have traditionally come as the result of criminal prosecution. Most of the time, society doesn't inflict serious consequences on people who have never been convicted.
"Driving while black" isn't a real crime, but it might as well be. African-Americans and people of color persistently report being stopped, searched, cited and even arrested for traffic offenses in situations where white people probably wouldn't be. Yet people of color don't break the law at a higher rate than whites. If anything, a recent study found, whites are more likely to do so.
Did you know that your property can be seized simply because you have been accused of a certain crime? You don't even have to be convicted. When police decide your money or property is connected to criminal activity, they can seize it in what is called a civil forfeiture proceeding.
In the United States, far more people go to prison for state crimes than federal offenses, but federal charges are just as serious, if not more so. If you suspect you may be charged with a federal crime, here are a few things you need to know.
The use of civil forfeitures has been called "policing for profit." The civil forfeiture process usually begins when someone is charged with a crime, either at the state or federal level. At that point, police and prosecutors may find that some of the defendant's money or property is connected to criminal activity. In essence, the prosecutor charges these valuables with being connected to or the proceeds of crime. The defendant bears the burden of proving that they were not. If the defendant fails to prove that, the police and prosecutor's office get to seize the money and property permanently -- even if the defendant has not yet been convicted of any crime.