In 2013, a study was performed by the Justice Department to monitor trends regarding traffic stops. It found that black drivers were 31% more likely than white drivers to be pulled over by the police. This statistic is consistent with anecdotal claims as well as other data regarding law enforcement practices and racial relations.
While statistics such as these do not prove that discrimination is to blame for minorities being subject to more traffic stops, other studies support this hypothesis. One such study was undertaken by Stanford University and New York University. It compared data on traffic stops conducted in daylight with data on traffic stops conducted at night. The reasoning behind this was due to the assumption that police officers are more able to identify the race of a driver in the daytime. The study found that black drivers were subject to an increased proportion of traffic stops in the daytime than in the nighttime.
What does this mean for asset seizures?
For a search and seizure to take place, a car must be pulled over first. Unfortunately, racial profiling and discrimination mean that a higher proportion of minority drivers are becoming vulnerable to the possibility of a search and seizure by law enforcement.
Can I use racial profiling as grounds to contest asset seizure?
If you can show that the traffic stop or search you were subject to was unlawful, you may have a chance of gaining back the seized assets. Under normal circumstances, a police officer does not have the right to search a car during a traffic stop. They can only do this if they have a probable cause to suspect that you are involved in illegal activity. If you believe that racial profiling caused the police officer to search your car and to seize assets, you may be able to take action by arguing that there was no probable cause to suspect you of being involved in illegal activity.
Unfortunately, law enforcement officials can seize assets that they suspect were involved in a crime without proving anything. If you have been subject to asset forfeiture and you believe that you were discriminated against, it is important to take action.