Horrific abuses rampant in state’s civil asset seizure laws

On Behalf of | Apr 19, 2019 | Types Of Asset Forfeiture

It was like something out of a Third World banana republic. Yet it happened right here in Alabama.

The Randolph County Sheriff’s Department deputies showed up at the Woodland couple’s home, kicked in their door, tossed a flashbang grenade at the husband that affected his long-term hearing and proceeded to raid their house for drugs.

Were they dealers trafficking in mass quantities of methamphetamine or heroin? Hardly. Cops discovered about fifty bucks worth of pot and a pipe to smoke it that allegedly belonged to their adult son and one sleeping pill that was out of the prescribed user’s bottle.

The two were arrested on the spot for misdemeanor charges of second degree possession of marijuana and possessing drug paraphernalia. They spent a day and a night in jail.

The wife’s wedding rings were seized, along with guitars, guns, (some of which were antiques) and thousands of dollars in cash from a loan for a chicken-raising venture into which they had invested all their savings.

They lost their house and now live in a shed without heat, air conditioning, indoor plumbing or running water. Their chicken farm went belly up in the aftermath of the “drug raid.” As a result of the arrest, the couple’s reputation was left in tatters as rumors abounded that it was a meth bust.

There are no records with the county about the location or disposition of any of the seized property, but it no longer is officially listed (if it ever was).

The couple filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in March alleging the illegal seizure of $8,000 and other property. They accuse the Randolph County Sheriff’s Department of violating their Constitutional rights against unreasonable searches and seizures. They also allege that their due process rights were violated.

If you face a similar civil asset forfeiture, learn about your rights under the law to fight back.