Law Enforcement Took More Through Asset Forfeiture Than Burglars Took Last Year
Over the course of 2014, more stuff was taken from citizens of the United States by law enforcement officers than by burglars. These takings occurred as part of civil asset forfeiture programs. Civil asset forfeiture programs allow law enforcement agencies to take money and property from people who have not even been charged with a crime, much less convicted of committing any criminal offense.
In this climate where police take property from citizens, those who have any interactions with law enforcement officers must be aware of all of their rights. When police indicate they wish to ask you questions or conduct a search of your person or property, you should politely and respectively insist on your right to have a lawyer present. An experienced Las Vegas criminal defense attorney from LV Criminal Defense can be there to help you make sure you do not create probable cause for any adverse actions on the part of the police.
Law Enforcement Took More Through Asset Forfeiture Than Burglars Took From U.S. Citizens
The Washington Post reports that 2014 is the first time in history that more cash and property was taken by people from police than by alleged criminals. Over the course of 2014, the most recent year for which data is available, losses from reported burglaries totaled $3.5 billion nationwide. The Institute for Justice, however, reports that the Justice Departments and the Treasury deposited more than $5 billion into respective asset forfeiture funds.
While some money taken by police flows back to victims and money moves in and out of asset forfeiture accounts all the time, the value of these accounts can also be measured by looking at the net assets of the funds. This number hit $4.5 billion over the course of 2014, which is also higher than the amount of losses reported from burglary offenses.
These figures relate only to monies seized by the federal government, and do not reflect the amount of money or property that is taken by local law enforcement authorities annually. It is difficult to get an accurate estimate of how much local agencies take because reliable data is not available from all 50 states. However, the Institute of Justice obtained the data that is available and found that 14 states that reported had taken more than $250 billion in money and property in 2013. It is reasonable to assume the amount of money and property taken in 2014 by all 50 states would be significantly higher than this amount.
Despite the widespread practice of police taking people’s property, most people are unaware of the extent of the problem, of how common it is, or even of the fact that police have the authority allowing them to seize money and assets from those not convicted of a crime. A different Washington Post article reported that when asked in polls, almost ¾ of Americans had never even heard of the term civil asset forfeiture.
Because many people don’t know that police can take money and property without first proving a crime was committed- or without even bringing criminal charges- many believe it is harmless to simply talk to the police and answer questions that law enforcement may have. The reality is, any interaction with law enforcement could potentially result in you having your money or property taken and/or in you providing information to law enforcement that ends up being used against you in court if you are later charged with a crime.
Do not take a chance of having your rights abridged or of becoming one of the many to lose property as a result of civil asset forfeiture. If police want to question you, ask for a lawyer and call LV Criminal Defense right away so an experienced Las Vegas defense attorney can help protect you.