With civil asset forfeiture, officers can legally take anything they want, without due process or probable cause, and claim it may have been used in a crime. They need no evidence and do not even have to charge anyone with a crime. After taking people’s personal property, authorities file a motion in civil court to keep people’s property.
Because of this ridiculous law which legalizes highway robbery by police, there have been some weird cases in court:
The Charleston Gazette-Mail notes one particularly weird case:
In Morgan County, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Raymond Boyce initiated one case in circuit court, naming a Hyundai Elantra, an ignition key, a cell phone, a digital scale, and $523 in U.S. currency as respondents. In that case, the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department received 90 percent of proceeds, and the prosecutor’s office received the other 10 percent, as per state code.
Smith pointed out that this law can turn cops into thieves.