Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Is TN’s civil seizure process state sanctioned thievery?

Knoxblogs.com - Seizures of cash from motorists by police under the guise of “suspected drug money” are all the rage in the media – from an award-winning series by a Nashville television station to the Washington Post. But the use and abuse of civil asset forfeiture laws are nothing new. The Institute for Justice sounded the alarm in 2010. Heck, that Nashville TV station even stole the report’s title for its 2014 series.

Not surprisingly to those in the legal community, Tennessee rated a D in the report. Here’s why: Our civil asset forfeiture laws presume you guilty, not innocent. That’s right. Cops take your cash  or property because they think, sans any actual proof, you acquired it via crime, and the Tennessee Department of Safety then grabs hold of it. It doesn’t matter if you are actually charged with a crime, much less convicted.

And not only are you presumed guilty but the burden now is on you to prove you are not. Civil asset forfeiture laws in Tennessee take all those guarantees under the state and U.S. Constitutions – presumed innocence, a trial by a jury of your peers at which the state, not you, has the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt – and shred them. LINK

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