You may have heard about Attorney General Eric Holder’s recent announcement that states would no longer be able to cite federal asset forfeiture laws to snatch people’s cash and property without so much as charging them with a crime – let alone actually going to the trouble of convicting them of having committed a crime.
Most people are unaware such brazen gangster tactics have been in use for years – and could be used against them. And when they are used, you’ll have little recourse. It is literally up to you to prove you did not commit a crime – at your expense and on your nickel.
Example: You have found a used car online that you are interested in buying. You make arrangements to go see the car, which is a couple hours’ drive away. Since you are pretty serious about wanting to buy the car if it checks out, you first go to the bank and withdraw $15,000 with which to purchase the car. You do so because you know that cash is a strong persuader and because the seller will not hand over the keys – or the title – unless he has cash in hand first.
Well, along the way you get pulled over for some minor traffic offense. The cop notices you have a large envelope, demands to inspect its contents and you (foolishly) give him permission to do so. The cop can then simply take – and keep your money. Because merely having a “large amount” of cash – that is the term used – is considered “suspicious.” It is sufficient in and of itself to characterize you as a “drug dealer” or other such outlaw and for the cop (and county/state he’s acting as muscle for) to simply seize the cash. And not temporarily, either. It is now your obligation to prove the money is (well, was) rightfully – that is, lawfully – yours. This can be very expensive and very time consuming and many people – under extreme duress – actually sign off on the seizure in return for the cop/local prosecutor “letting them go.”
With empty pockets.
Example two: You are forced to stop at one of those vile (and probable cause-free) “sobriety” or “safety” checkpoints now routinized in the land of the formerly free. The cop claims he “smelled marijuana.” It is enough – all by itself – for him to simply take your vehicle, auction it off and put the proceeds toward more equipment (and more cops) to fight the “war” on some drugs (alcohol being a socially accepted – and thus, legal – drug).
You are shaken down for $30,000 (the value of your car) over a $300 bag of pot – actual or imagined (or just planted). It happens – and it’s entirely “lawful.” Just as it is “lawful” to stop/search people without probable cause – and to cavity search them once the pretext of an arrest for any offense (including infractions such as jaywalking or littering) is satisfied.
It sounds crazy, I know. And is. But it’s absolutely for real. A form of rendition – such a lovely term – only applied to property rather than persons. Both have become accepted routine in a country where it has become acceptable to do such things to various categories of pariah persons on mere suspicion that they might be such pariah persons and thus, beyond the protection of the law. Like the physical rendition of “terrorists” (who can be anyone the state says, merely having claimed that they are) to places such as Gitmo and other pleasure palaces of the state, the victims of these outrages are relatively few in number, easily marginalized and their cases usually do not get much coverage. But the skeevy point lost on the lowing masses – who mostly turn away from such unpleasantness – is that the same could be visited upon them at any moment.
Well, they used to.
As did the rules of law, such as having to have evidence of a crime before subjecting people to searches and seizures – and needing to actually convict them of a crime in front of a jury and a judge before imposing sentence. Thanks to the “wars” on (some) drugs and “terrorism” (tomorrow that could mean you) those ancient niceties have been dispensed with – mostly to the accompaniment of clapping (the democratic form of seig heiling).
Well, the good news is your stuff (and cash) are no longer subject to being seized under federal asset forfeiture laws.
The bad news is that states and counties are not going to stop doing it just because the feds have said they’re out of the racket. (And the feds are still going to do it, too. Unless the IRS is included in Eric Holder’s proclamation. It routinely just takes people’s stuff before anything’s been proven or in some cases even formally charged. Look into, for instance, something the IRS calls “structuring.”)
How goes the saying? New boss… same as the old boss?
The feds have ruled it’s lawful for us peons to record cops serving and protecting; it does not prevent them from arresting/caging people for so doing. My home state continues to enforce the ban on radar detectors – despite the federal courts (the “supreme” federal court) having ruled such bans unconstitutional.
Power, ultimately, does indeed flow from the barrel of a gun. And whether that gun is held by a federal thug or a local yokel one hardly matters to the victim on the other end of that gun.
So, herewith some practical advice: Do not carry “large sums” of cash on your person. Anything more than $100, basically – or whatever sum you’re comfortable with losing, in the event you get shaken down by Officer Less Than Friendly. Never consent to any search if your person, property or vehicle. No matter how innocent you know yourself to be; no matter how apparently friendly and reasonable the cop seems to be. His job is to wheedle you into giving him pretext – legal standing – to do his thing, which is to convict you of something and relieve you of your liberty and your money. Do not consent. It may be the only way you’ll ever get your stuff – and your liberty – back.
Technicalities weigh heavier on the scales of injustice than justice.
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