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In America, we're supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. Life, liberty, and property can't be taken from you unless you're convicted of a crime.
Your life and liberty may still be safe, but have you ever gone to a government surplus auction? Consumer reporters like me tell people, correctly, that they are great places to find bargains. People can buy bikes for $10, cars for $500.
But where did the government get that stuff?
Some is abandoned property.
But some I would just call loot. The cops grabbed it.
Zaher El-Ali has repaired and sold cars in Houston for 30 years. One day, he sold a truck to a man on credit. Ali was holding the title to the car until he was paid, but before he got his money the buyer was arrested for drunk driving. The cops then seized Ali's truck and kept it, planning to sell it.
Ali can't believe it
"I own that truck. That truck done nothing."
The police say they can keep it under forfeiture law because the person driving the car that day broke the law. It doesn't matter that the driver wasn't the owner. It's as if the truck committed the crime.
"I have never seen a truck drive," Ali said. I don't think it's the fault of the truck. And they know better."
Something has gone wrong when the police can seize the property of innocent people.
"Under this bizarre legal fiction called civil forfeiture, the government can take your property, including your home, your car, your cash, regardless of whether or not you are convicted of a crime. It's led to horrible abuses," says Scott Bullock of the Institute for Justice, the libertarian law firm.
Originally posted by Angiras
You better hope we never get to the point of Martial Law, because then the government can take whatever they want without having to give you any excuse whatsoever--including your life.
Originally posted by hotpinkurinalmint
Asset forfeiture is one of the risks the man in the story assumes when he enters into business agreements. The man would be SOL if a person he sold a car to totaled the car in an accident.
The man can get insurance to cover the risk and/or limit his risk by not selling cars on credit to sketchy people.
Early on a morning in January 2009, Smelley, who is 22, was pulled over while driving along I-70 in Putnam County, Indiana. Months earlier, he'd been in a car accident and won a $50,000 settlement. He states in court documents that he had taken around $17,500 with him that January day en route from his home in Detroit to St. Louis, to buy a new car for his aunt.
Smelley was pulled over for making an unsafe lane change and driving with an obscured license plate. He was also driving with an expired driver's license. His traffic stop should have ended with citations for those infractions. Instead, the police officer asked Smelley to get out of the car and patted him down, finding the cash. The officer then called in a K-9 unit for a sniff search of Smelley's car for drugs. The dog alerted twice. Smelley and two passengers were arrested, and the police seized Smelley's money.
A subsequent hand search of Smelley's car turned up no illicit drugs, and no criminal charges were ever filed against Smelley or his passengers. Smelley produced a letter from a Detroit law firm confirming he had been awarded the $50,000 from the accident. That didn't matter. Putnam County has since held Smelley's money for more than a year.