Lunaya Pravda

23 October 2006

Oregon and Asset Forfeiture

Oregon has its faults, but in some significant ways (death with dignity, medical marijuana), those folks sure are ahead of the curve.

Court upholds Oregon law restricting forfeitures

Before the measure passed, police were able to use civil courts to seek forfeiture of money and property believed to have been obtained in criminal activity, such as drug buys, or purchased with the proceeds of criminal activity.

But civil liberties groups objected, saying police could take property even if its owner never was convicted of a crime and without proving their case by the high standard required in criminal trials.

The 2000 law, known as Measure 3, raised the bar, requiring police to get a criminal conviction before they could pursue a forfeiture. It also tightened the rules on what is subject to forfeiture, effectively slashing the amounts police could claim and cutting off a major source of funding for narcotics investigations.

I probably need not mention how silly it is that police think they can, in essence, convict inanimate property of a crime, especially when there isn't enough evidence to charge the owner with anything. Score one for the little guys. Asset forfeiture has become one of the largest abuses being perpetrated by police in this country, and it's good to see that the residents of at least one state are telling their law enforcement that they've had enough of these unjustifiable police garage sales.

Labels: ,