How can an inanimate object be guilty of a crime?

If you think the idea sounds absurd, you aren’t alone. However, that’s the logic behind asset forfeiture laws. Under the laws, your house, car, money, jewelry and just about any other possession you own can be guilty of a crime — even if you aren’t.

Asset forfeiture laws were designed with good intentions. The goal was to strip major drug traffickers and dealers of both the tools of their trade and the proceeds.

If the police could only confiscate enough vehicles, it would be harder to transport drugs. If they could confiscate enough homes and warehouses, it would be harder to create, cut and distribute the product. If they confiscated enough goodies (jewelry, cash and other expensive items that may or may not have been purchased with “drug money”) the incentive to keep selling drugs would be thwarted.

However, it seldom works out that way. Most of the people who are subjected to civil asset forfeiture are ordinary folks who happen to have cash on them when they’re stopped for a traffic violation.

Why would the police do this? It’s simple: They get to keep at least part of what they take. You may get some of it back, but you probably won’t get the full amount of what was taken — at least, not without a fight.

You can fight back against asset forfeiture. However, you need an experienced legal advocate in your corner to win. If you’ve fallen victim to this elaborate and misguided logic of the law, call our office to learn what we might be able to do to help you.