Bill requiring conviction before asset forfeiture heads to Senate

I feel like there is a bit of misunderstanding here about what asset forfeiture is. It's supposed to only apply to situations where there is evidence that the asset is connected to a crime, but nobody is claiming ownership of that asset. This is the whole crux of the issue - if there was a person connected to the asset, and there was evidence connecting that person to the crime, then that person would be on trial instead of the asset.

So, let's say that you go to the bank and cash out your $5000 savings account with the intention of buying a sweet sofa off of craigslist. However, in the process, you are carjacked and the thief then uses the car to steal $5000 from a lemonade stand, ditching the car afterwards. The police locate the car, and locate the $5000, then the initial assumption is that, based on evidence, the automobile and the $5000 in the glove box are connected to this robbery. Now, if you go down to the police station with your lawyer, your withdrawal receipt and the police report stating that the car was stolen, in all likelihood, the cops will give you back the money (but will keep the car around until it is no longer needed as evidence). If you go down there with just the police report, the cops still won't charge you for the robbery, but they probably won't give you the $5000 back either since you cannot prove ownership of it, and there is circumstantial evidence that the money was taken during the robbery.

Now, of course, this "loophole" is rife for abuse, and that should be addressed. However, this law requiring a conviction is mostly lip service, since the entire point behind asset forfeiture as commonly used in law enforcement is that there isn't a person being accused of a crime in most cases, and anyone coming forward to claim the asset without a supporting paper trail is really just volunteering themselves as the primary suspect. It's already a catch-22, and this probably doesn't do much to change that.

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