Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Court to Grandma: You Shouldn't Lose Your House Just Because Your Dumb Son Sold Some Weed There

quote [ Four years after the Philadelphia District Attorney seized her house without ever charging her with a crime, a 72-year-old grandmother has prevailed at the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, where justices strengthened protections for property owners against civil asset forfeiture. ]
[SFW] [politics] [+2 Good]
[by satanspenis666@9:45pmGMT]

Comments

sanepride said @ 11:14pm GMT on 13th Jun [Score:2 Underrated]
Good news-
article from Philly Inquirer because I'd prefer to not read it off of a Libertarian blog.
3333 said[3] @ 12:13am GMT on 14th Jun [Score:-4]
filtered comment under your threshold
Taxman said[1] @ 1:45am GMT on 14th Jun [Score:-1 WTF]
Ugh hate to in any way, shape, or form be with numbers, but most of you are incorrect about this topic. The news of cherry-picked situations of overzealous locals seizing grandma's house are the MINORITY (1%) of civil forfeiture on the whole.

The "Institute for Justice" is the TEA PARTY. Make no mistake. They are not trying to remove civil forfeiture, but taxes as an institution. They have several videos (which we were investigated on) in which they "re-enacted" the search/arest scene on youtube. They didn't care that they got 90% of what was in the physical description of what was said and done wrong.

Civil forfeiture stops the mob from growing in your neighborhood. It stops the mob from having the funds to assassinate local attorney's before they (the suspects) can be tried in court (as you've asked). This is why we take the funds PRIOR to the suspect being able to use them against us or making the funds disappear overseas.

You can say it's not right, you can say it's not fair, but in the end it's what you've asked us to do all along. Make up your mind. If a character is sympathetic (grandma) should we not apply the law the same way we would to any other citizen? Should there be exemptions for sympathetic characters?
kylemcbitch said @ 2:13am GMT on 14th Jun [Score:2]
If it's purpose is to punish the mob, that purpose has been subverted. And regardless if this is the Tea Party or not, even a broken clock is right twice a day.

Civil forfeiture is monstrously wrong-headed and ripe for abuse.
hellboy said @ 6:29pm GMT on 14th Jun
It's not just ripe for abuse, it is actively being abused right now by police departments all over the country.
satanspenis666 said @ 2:35am GMT on 14th Jun [Score:3]
Bullshit. Half of civil seizures are so small that the cost to challenge is greater than the worth of the property. When civil seizures are challenged, the process often takes over a year to recover the property. The appeal process also requires the property owner to agree not to sue the police afterwards. There are hundreds of stories to cherry pick from, because there are so many injustices. There are thousands of stories that aren't told, because of the cost to challenge and because many targeted people aren't aware of their rights.
Taxman said @ 12:53pm GMT on 14th Jun
Where are you getting your "half" stats?

We have minimum value requirements. At least at the federal level, we have a 90 day requirement to handle petitions or claims. On day 91 if we have not resolved the issue, the funds are returned within a week.

Hold harmless agreements are meant to prevent us from perpetually having to go back to court for assets that have been resolved. You have full rights to appeal, but it has to end once a JUDGE makes a decision.

None of this is being done in a vacuum. You may believe that law enforcement, the AUSA, and the judge are all part of the same group. We are not. A case is created, an investigation is done, a law and fact is submitted for review by the AUSA and judge. There are procedures to protect the innocent.

There are thousands of stories that aren't told and I ultimately agree that the situation should be reviewed to minimize innocents. However, there are hundreds of thousands of successes where criminals and their organizations have been dismantled. Do not burn down the building to swat a fly.
foobar said @ 3:27pm GMT on 14th Jun [Score:1 Underrated]
Do not burn down the building to swat a fly.

Maybe don't seize grandma's house to swat a pot dealer?
foobar said @ 5:41am GMT on 14th Jun [Score:1 Underrated]
That could be achieved in the case of real property by placing a lein, or in the case of currency placing it in an interest bearing account until any active related charges are resolved.

Are you arguing this 72 year old woman was in the mob?
Taxman said[1] @ 1:12pm GMT on 14th Jun
For real property it's called a post and walk. We place a lis pendens on the house and we argue our case in court. It acts as a lien on the house so you don't try to sell it and run. You can even live in the house until it is forfeited. If it's forfeited it means a judge has transferred the ownership to the US government.

For currency all funds are place in what's called the Treasury Suspense Account. It is an interest bearing account. The funds cannot be used by the party or the government. In the cases where we are wrong, the judge can make us return the funds with interest. In the 9th district, this is mandatory on all returns (I think that should be nationwide personally).

I'm stating that when it comes to enforcing the law everyone is a number and an address. Everyone has a story and everyone can be a sympathetic character given the right circumstances. Justice is supposed to be blind.

The grandma was allowing her home (knowingly or unknowingly) to be a repository for drug sales. The son got caught on a 140 sale, but was that the first and last time he had made a sale? How much in illegal funds have passed through him, untaxed (and I say that because it's unfair to everyone else who does pay), and are we supposed to just... not stop him?

Should young people who live in their sweet grandmas house be immune to prosecution? Should we not remove the means and safe harbor of drug dealers?

You appear to be sending mixed messages based on the sympathy generated by the suspect in question.
mechanical contrivance said @ 2:06pm GMT on 14th Jun [Score:1 Underrated]
Don't put words in peoples' mouths. No one ever said drug dealers shouldn't be arrested. We said don't seize someone's house because someone else committed a crime in it.
Taxman said @ 3:12pm GMT on 14th Jun [Score:-1 WTF]
I'm not putting words in people's mouths, I'm asking readers to follow what they are asking to it's logical conclusion. It's frustrating for law enforcement when you say "Enforce the Law! No wait, not in this case!"

The son was using his assumably innocent mother's house to sell drugs out of. We can't let this continue just because we 'like' the mom. The 'house' was commiting a crime, that's why the mom wasn't charged. Again, I'm glad it was returned.

I'd like to also point out that it's not fair to the neighbors to have to live next to a drug dealer (kid or otherwise). Again, this is assuming this was not the first and last sale he would ever make. It's marijuana so, meh, but if it was heroin or meth I think a lot of the sympathy would vanish.
foobar said @ 3:26pm GMT on 14th Jun [Score:1 Underrated]
You are putting words in people's mouth. When we say "enforce the law," we're not asking for Judge Dread. We expect that there will be due process and no punishment until and unless one is convicted.
Taxman said @ 5:10pm GMT on 14th Jun
And I'm simply saying from where I stand, you aren't being specific. You do not appear to understand the ramifications of removing this system.

It was put into place to hold funds and property while the government did its enforcement procedure. It was put in place because this property and currency had a habit of disappearing during trial. If you think that the ability of criminals to make money disappear has LESSENED since this procedure was created, then you haven't been paying attention.

If you're saying a frozen bank account or lien against your house is Judge Dredd punishment before conviction, then I'm sorry you feel that way. If criminals would just behave themselves and not try to move, sell, or hide assets once we've caught them then we wouldn't have to do this. We can't tell the difference between a criminal or innocent until they've had their day in court.

So you see, really you're angry at the criminals that ruined it for everyone. :-)
mechanical contrivance said @ 6:10pm GMT on 14th Jun [Score:1 Underrated]
You're saying that the mom would have sold her house if the government hadn't seized it? Why? Or maybe she would have given it away or burned it down. Why? I suppose she could have quickly sold it for less than it was worth then taken the money and run away to Mexico. She could do that. It's her house. If her son was found innocent, then there was no crime and no need to seize anything. If he was guilty, he would go to jail and wouldn't be able to commit crimes anymore. The house is irrelevant in both cases.

The only scenario I can think of for why seizing the house might be helpful is if instead of jail time, the son was ordered to pay to a fine but said he couldn't pay it because he was broke. Then the state could auction off the house to get its money. But that would be wrong, because it wasn't his house.

Let's say you go away for the week. Your kid has a party. Your kid sells weed to his friend at the party and some busybody calls the cops over it. You come home Sunday night to find that your house is now the property of the state. Is that the way it should work?

Really we're angry at the justice system for abusing an ostensibly useful legal tool for their own benefit.
Taxman said[1] @ 7:11pm GMT on 14th Jun
When they seized the house, she could have filed a petition to continue living in the house while the court case played out. They would have Lis Pendens the house, which is just a holder for the government's interest, preventing sale.

Would she have tried to sell the house and flee? Probably not based on the situation. It's procedure in case she tried to.

There seems to be a misunderstanding in how the law works. The DA pushed that the mother knew what her son was doing, but because he was family, allowed him to continue to commit illegal acts. The property is forfeit. You aren't allowed to use your house to sell drugs. It now belongs to the US government.

The PA Supreme Court agrees that more forethought needs to be put into wether someone is complicit. Good for them, I agree with that.
mechanical contrivance said @ 7:19pm GMT on 14th Jun
You keep going back and forth. You say the government was right to seize the house, but you're glad they had to give it back. These two things don't reconcile.

You're defending the current law tooth and nail, but you agree that it needs to change. These two things don't reconcile.
Taxman said @ 2:17am GMT on 15th Jun
From what I can tell, everyone on here wants to remove civil forfeiture branch and root.

I'm not saying it can't be improved to avoid the embarrassing articles such as the attached. I'm willing to give credit where credit is due. Dear god, compromise?!

I'm saying that the stats on the good it has done, the criminal organizations it has destroyed far outweigh the articles where a mom and son have lost their house. Sure they are emotional reads about how "the guv'mint is comin for our homes!" But in reality it is just cherry picked sob stories with NONE of the good stories to counter it.
zarathustra said @ 6:57am GMT on 18th Jun
Would you conssider the killing of Donald Scott a sob story?


OFFICE OF THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY COUNTY OF VENTURA
STATE OF CALIFORNIA

March 30, 1993

REPORT ON THE DEATH OF DONALD SCOTT

MICHAEL D. BRADBURY, District Attorney

"It is the District Attorney's opinion that the Los
Angeles
County Sheriff's Department was motivated, at least in part, by a
desire to seize and forfeit the ranch for the government. While
the National Park Service could indirectly obtain this land,
there is no evidence that it instigated or played a significant
role in the forfeiture plan. Based in part upon the possibility
of forfeiture, Spencer obtained a search warrant that was not
supported by probable cause. This search warrant became Donald
Scott's death warrant."
Taxman said @ 12:31pm GMT on 18th Jun
"Donald P. Scott was killed during a police raid on October 2, 1992 as they attempted to serve a warrant to search for marijuana at his remote Ventura County ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains. Upon forcible entry into his residence, an officer shot and killed Scott. Scott, recovering from a cataract operation, was wielding a firearm over his head when he entered the room where his wife was yelling "Don't shoot me.""

Search warrants are signed off by a judge based on the evidence presented. If you feel the officers, AUSA, and judge are all 'in' on a conspiracy together then you are doomed and I suggest you get a tinfoil hat as soon as possible.

The man had a gun, which escalates the threat level to max. I''m not here to justify every single tragedy between civilians and officers. However, this shows the counter argument that he was not murdered for forfeiture. He was shot wielding a gun during a legal search.

If it makes you feel any better (it won't), nothing was seized. Sometimes search warrants don't find anything. You don't get to see it, but if law enforcement asks for a search warrant and finds NOTHING, it is extremely embarrassing to the judge that issued the warrant. If you think you're going to get one as easily next time, well you've got another thing coming.
zarathustra said @ 7:40pm GMT on 18th Jun [Score:1 Insightful]

The issue is that the practice of sharing the assets of such seizures with the agency involved creates a perverse incentive that leads to things like this.

According to the report, the officers statement of probable cause contained material misstatements and omissions of fact motivated by a desire to seize the land worth million of dollars and the deputy district attorney was ignorant of the law. The conclusion is that the warrant was invalid. So, shot wielding a gun during an illegal search by the one who provided the materially false information the search was predicated upon.

Mush of what is wrong with civil forfeiture could be fixed just by removing the perverse incentive.



Taxman said @ 1:04am GMT on 19th Jun
Your issue is with equitable sharing then, not civil forfeiture.

I don't have any love myself of equitable sharing because it generally brings cases (as you've described) to our doorstep and we have to turn them away because the evidence is too flimsy. We end up returning the funds which angers the citizen, the locals, and the people that had to research that there was no case.
zarathustra said @ 3:03am GMT on 19th Jun
Sorry, until they are separated, you can not just intellectually divide them and call what remains good. But don't worry, the citizen is not angry (being fuckin dead) and next to that I have a hard time feeling bad for the locals who were inconvenienced or the people that did their research after the fact.
foobar said @ 10:26pm GMT on 14th Jun
Except that isn't what happened. She was kicked out of her house. That is the simple fact, and if you want to defend the system, you need to defend that.

You're forgetting the entire basis of our system of justice; it is better to let 10 guilty men go free than to punish one innocent.
Taxman said @ 2:29am GMT on 15th Jun
Where does it say she was kicked out? It says she has been out of her home since 2013.

Hardship petition (nowhere to live) until case resolved. Lis Pendens filed, she lives in the home until Supreme Court rules in her favor.
foobar said @ 3:09am GMT on 15th Jun
That's not what happened. That's all that matters.

That you think having to take it to the Supreme Court is at all acceptable is why you clearly cannot be trusted with this sort of power.
Taxman said @ 1:38am GMT on 16th Jun
"That's not what happened. That's all that matters."

No one has shown me this "kicking out" that apparently you know about that's not in the article. She has rights, she has the ability to protest what is being done AND petition for relief. If she does not, you can't hold the government responsible for following procedure.

If taking something to the supreme court to understand how we should possibly tighten our state and federal laws makes something unacceptable then ANY situation brought to the supreme court is unacceptable. (Because how DARE it have to get to that point amiright?)

What I hear:

"What the heck?! You mean that adjudicating and modifying law through court review is going to take TIME?! ARGLE BARGLE GLOP GLYFF!!!"
foobar said @ 3:00am GMT on 16th Jun
I'll call your bluff. Hand me the keys to your house and stay out for at least four years, or acknowledge that this is unacceptable.

Put up or shut up.
Taxman said[1] @ 3:34am GMT on 16th Jun
Unfortunately for this argument, I've done nothing wrong.

The facts of the case in the article imply that the son was doing something wrong (that hopefully you will admit). We can sit and argue (and honestly we'd probably agree 100%) about how drug law in this country needs to change. However, until it DOES change you are wrong.

I have already agreed (below) that federally, we never would have pursued this case. Way too circumstantial. I'm glad that the state supreme court is now on board.
mechanical contrivance said @ 1:26pm GMT on 16th Jun
A lot of people have done nothing wrong and get their property taken from them anyway.
Taxman said @ 9:20pm GMT on 16th Jun
I still haven't seen these "a lot" or "half of all civil forfeiture" stats (below) that apparently you all have.

Are you saying you've seen several articles and so you are sure that this is a wide spread problem affecting thousands upon thousands of innocent bystanders?

Can I politely ask where you are getting your numbers?
mechanical contrivance said @ 11:21pm GMT on 16th Jun
People on the internet.
Taxman said @ 12:14am GMT on 17th Jun
Always a reliable source.

Any chance that it could be overblown?

That the situations are the worst of the worst descriptions of what happened, possibly told entirely from the 'victim' role of which you could empathize with most easily (as a citizen it could possibly happen to)?

That to tell the story this way, makes people angry about the guv'mint comin' to murder their babies. Their totally innocent babies that have done nothing wrong but a little crime, but drug crime, which is just the man with his boot on your neck anyways so not really crime at all?

Would the news have any incentive to create such a justifiably clickable story that further garners resentment against such an easy villain as the government?

Any possibility?
mechanical contrivance said @ 2:43am GMT on 17th Jun
The problem isn't when someone gets their stuff taken away because they committed a crime. It's when they get their stuff taken away when they haven't committed a crime, or even been charged with one.

And it doesn't need to happen a lot for it to be a problem. It's a problem even if it only happens a little. It should never happen at all.
Taxman said @ 12:14pm GMT on 17th Jun
So let me ask you something.

If we went to the woman and she admitted that she COMPLETELY knew what her son was doing, actually enjoyed that he was bringing in money to help pay the mortgage, and since it was only weed the people showing up didn't seem all that bad; would you feel ANY different?

The reason I ask is not for your eventual "But that's not what happened!", or "You can't possibly know that!" but rather that if the shoe fit, if procedure was being followed as the law was written, would you still be upset?

I have never said that it's not something we can't work on. I've said that the the complete removal of it is not the answer. That's all I've heard here. Not here's how it could be made better, this needs to be tweaked, just outrage at the idea that someone had something taken without personally being charged.

You've all (I'm generalizing) become so set in how you think the justice system works, how it should work, that you haven't taken the time to see how it actually works and especially WHY it works that way (how did it get there).

You're crying for repeal without actually reading the bill (law) or understanding it's benefits. Seems to happen a lot nowadays. :-P
mechanical contrivance said @ 3:15am GMT on 18th Jun
If the mom knew her son was selling weed in her house and admitted it, should the state have taken her house from her? No, because there's no reason for it. There's no benefit to society.

You said the reason to take the house was so that no one could use it to break the law anymore. That reason doesn't hold water.

Her son broke the law and was put in jail for it. Because he's in jail, he can't sell weed in the house anymore so there's no reason to take it away. If the mom broke the law, arrest her and put her in jail. Then she won't be able to break the law anymore, either, so there's no reason to take the house. If some vagabond starts squatting in the empty house and starts selling crack out of it, arrest him. So now he's in jail and can't use the house to break the law, either.

It's simple. If a person breaks the law in the house, arrest them. If someone else breaks the law in the house, arrest them, too. There is never a reason to take the house.
Taxman said @ 12:14pm GMT on 18th Jun
We're somehow starting over.

If you don't remove the assets with which criminals use to commit crime, you end up fighting an eternal pass-on war with associates (or coincidentally enough) family members. Let's say, for the sake of argument, the mom and the dad were in on it too, the whole business. Little Timmy gets snagged by the cops selling in the house. No forfeiture exists, so Timmy goes to jail. Before or at trial it's discovered how he is caught. Mom and Dad tighten the security around the house and resume selling as normal. In fact, they use cash funds from the illegal business lying around the house to pay for Timmy's bail, lawyer, and a bribe or two while we're at it (what? we can't take currency anymore even if we know it used in a crime). Timmy gets out, starts selling in the house again.

Your understanding is normal and I can appreciate the emotional aspect of someone losing something that they didn't actively get arrested for. However if you don't take away these assets criminals will literally use them against you over and over again. Or else they will simply start up again, they do not have a shortage of manpower.

The attached is a sob story, a story meant to tug on your emotions. If you'd like, I will attempt to find some of our closed cases which tug the other way. Where victims were driven into sexual slavery in these houses. That if we just arrested the person responsible, the houses would be used again within a week and the security would just tighten to prevent future capture.

I assure you, law enforcement is NOT simple.
mechanical contrivance said @ 4:40pm GMT on 18th Jun
I never said cash from selling drugs shouldn't be taken as evidence, just the house.

And you're ignoring the part where I said arrest the other people if they start committing crimes. If the cops know the parents are selling drugs, arrest them. The house has nothing to do with it.

When Timmy gets out of jail, he can start selling drugs anywhere. Taking away his parents' house won't stop him.
Taxman said @ 1:16am GMT on 19th Jun
At this point you're just saying that 'houses' are sacred to you.

They caught the boy in an undercover buy.

What if there was a basement full of pot and grow lamps? Are we supposed to just seize the pot and lamps and say "Thanks for the stuff, sure hope you don't turn around and start doing this again!"

If the parents were in on it (which I remind everyone we're just using as an example), they've now tightened up all their potential sales to people they know. Probably won't shit where they sleep anymore either. We won't be able to, without great difficulty, catch them going forward.

That's the purpose of taking the house. He'll have a harder time getting a residential home out of which he can safely store, sell, and hide his activities/wares going forward.

"When your enemy goes to ground, leave no ground for them to go to."

mechanical contrivance said @ 1:42am GMT on 19th Jun
No, you seize the plants and grow lamps and arrest the person.

Wait, are you saying that the parents will stop selling out of their house whether you take the house or not? Then what's the difference?
Taxman said @ 1:52am GMT on 19th Jun
I'm saying if we take the house, the drug dealing stops there.

Again, all I'm seeing here is a sacredness given houses.

If you use a house, or a car, or a gun, or an X to commit an illegal act the government can take it from you. They do not have to prove you are the one who did it, they just have to prove the item was used in an illegal act. Everyone admits the house was being used in this way.

They were out of the house for 8 days and the government returned it under (arguably) your conditions. The son may not return.
foobar said @ 4:14pm GMT on 16th Jun
Neither had the home owner. Again, put up or shut up.
Taxman said[1] @ 9:15pm GMT on 16th Jun
Harboring a terrorist, or a drug dealer, or allowing any criminal act to happen in your home is a crime if you are aware and complicit.

You are fully convinced the mom had no knowledge of the drug deals and is therefore completely innocent. I'm glad you were able to deciper her exact intent and knowledge from a single article.

The state was fully convinced that the mother was aware. They presented their case and eventually lost. This is how the process works. The state has improved and tightened it's regulations.

Your put up or shut up argument is a fallacy. "Do something incredibly stupid or else your lack of willingness to do arbitrarily stupid thing I've suggested means you don't stand by your convictions". Either make a real argument or exit from the discussion, but being rude is childish.
foobar said @ 10:15pm GMT on 16th Jun
She was convicted of neither of those things, nor, I believe, was she even charged with them.

You, yourself, are fully as guilty as she is. I'm not being rude. I'm holding you to your own standards.

So again; put up, or shut up.
Taxman said @ 12:02am GMT on 17th Jun
From a offshoot of the article itself:

"Police and prosecutors came armed with a lawsuit against the house itself. It was being forfeited and transferred to the custody of the Philadelphia District Attorney. Authorities said the house was tied to illegal drugs and therefore subject to civil forfeiture.

Not all people who have their property taken away are charged with a crime. Unlike criminal forfeiture, the civil law allows authorities to seize property without the owner ever being convicted or even charged."

She was not charged, we both agree. The "house" was charged (illegal activity went on there). I'm starting to see a pattern that many of you do not understand how property can be 'charged'. Nonetheless, it is the law.

I am not "guilty" as I have not had any illegal activity occur on my premises. The mother did. Again we can argue to death whether she knew or didn't know, but the truth of that information will not be revealed in an article.

They did not pick her out of nowhere. They did not randomly seize her house and say too bad so sad. Her son was committing a crime. He was using the house as an asset with which to privately conduct his illegal business. He was making money, he wasn't paying any tax on it, and he was using his mother and her house for cover. That is why they went in, that is why they took it, they should have had a better argument.

Look at that, something you and the Philadelphia District Attorney have in common. :-)
foobar said @ 3:48am GMT on 17th Jun
Yeah, I bought $140 of weed from some guy on your lawn. So long as we're abandoning the presumption of innocence, you're still just as guilty.
Taxman said @ 11:57am GMT on 17th Jun
You don't live in the home or have any connection to the home. You're simply some guy on someone's lawn. The undercover would most likely arrest you right then and there and I wouldn't even hear about it.

It's not the same situation as a regular person sitting around minding their own business, no matter how much you feel like it is. Crimes were committed. Crimes you don't care about because it's drug related (and a controversial one at that).

Interesting that in an offshoot article the type of drug sold changes. I assume this won't have any change in consideration from you (at this point we've reached peak backfire effect).

From an article linked in the original article:

"The nightmare began when police showed up at the house and arrested their 22-year-old son, Yianni, on drug charges -- $40 worth of heroin. Authorities say he was selling drugs out of the home."
foobar said @ 3:34pm GMT on 17th Jun
It's not the same situation as a regular person sitting around minding their own business

That's the thing, it's exactly that.

If you'd convicted her as an accessory, you might have a point (though seizing a home would still be wildly excessive), but you didn't.

And no, it doesn't matter what kind of drug or what kind of crime. It's a matter of due process and the presumption of innocence.
Taxman said @ 7:41pm GMT on 17th Jun
There is no presumption of innocence for property.

I think you've already agreed the house was being used in a crime?

"After eight days of sleeping on a family member's couch, the Sourvelises were let back into their house, but only on the guarantee they would ban their son from the house. (Their son pleaded no contest to the drug charges.)"

You think it's excessive. Duly noted opinion.

foobar said @ 10:36pm GMT on 17th Jun
They didn't punish the property.
mechanical contrivance said @ 3:44pm GMT on 14th Jun [Score:1 Underrated]
The house was not committing a crime. The son was, and now he's in jail. Because he's in jail, he can't use the house to commit crimes anymore, so there's no need to seize the house.
Taxman said @ 4:51pm GMT on 14th Jun
The house was being used in the commission of a crime. It was the place where illegal business was being conducted, purposefully, to avoid detection. If he had used a public park for the trade, the house wouldn't be in question.

If you rob a bank, expect your getaway car to be up for grabs.
mechanical contrivance said @ 5:54pm GMT on 14th Jun [Score:1 Underrated]
If someone robs a bank and goes to jail for it, they can't use the car to rob banks anymore, so what difference does it make if the car gets seized?

If someone sells weed and goes to jail for it, they can't use their house to sell weed anymore, so what difference does it make if the house gets seized?
Taxman said @ 6:51pm GMT on 14th Jun
It's a weird concept that isn't discussed much.

If you commit a crime, the properties you use to complete that crime are no longer eligible for you to own. They belong to the United States Government.

You own your home. The SECOND you start human trafficking in it, we own it. You don't have the "right" to use the property in that way. It now belongs to the US by default. Yes there is a long procedure surrounding the transfer of ownership, but the facts remains the same.

Sometimes we take it, sometimes we don't, but the legal authority is there.

Same goes for cash. If you misuse it, if you launder it, if you violate the terms the government has laid down for it, we reserve the right to freeze it in financial institutions, we reserve the right to take it away from you until we get to the bottom of what's going on. This guy doesn't have the right to sell pot and make money on it (I agree, change the law) but until you do... we enforce the law.

mechanical contrivance said @ 7:09pm GMT on 14th Jun
In your human trafficking example, the person doing the trafficking owned the house. What if the house belonged to someone else and that someone else didn't know there were any crimes being committed?
Taxman said @ 7:14pm GMT on 14th Jun
Specifically mentioned in the article. The owner would be considered a victim.

"In a unanimous opinion issued last Thursday, the Philadelphia Supreme Court tightened the rules for seizing property, ruling that, although police and prosecutors have the authority to take property used in illegal activities, there must be clear evidence that the property owner knew of and agreed to the crimes."

If someone steals your car and uses it for a crime, that's not forfeitable.

You give your friend your car, knowing full well he's going to commit a crime, that can be taken.
mechanical contrivance said @ 7:23pm GMT on 14th Jun
If you agree with the court ruling, I find it odd that you're defending the current law so vehemently.
Taxman said @ 8:04pm GMT on 14th Jun
Well this was state. Federally, if we show up at your door, we have you six ways till Sunday. We have so much backup documentation, we've investigated you so thoroughly, and we have the AUSA on board with seizure/forfeiture action. Then it's just a matter of convincing the judge.

The situation in the article is a bad situation. Extremely flimsy complicit argument and it seems like an officer/agent/DA trying to seem tough on drug dealers.

The program as a whole, however, is sound. Believe me or not, I can see the stats. It has brought about so much more good and dismantled terrorist organizations, human traffickers, and foreign mobs than will ever be reported on.
mechanical contrivance said @ 8:13pm GMT on 14th Jun
Why isn't the good ever reported on?
Taxman said @ 2:31am GMT on 15th Jun
We can't make the news report on anything.

"Drug dealer goes to prison because he commited crime." Isn't as juicy as "Poor mother caught up in terrible government conspiracy to murder babies!"
mechanical contrivance said @ 1:09pm GMT on 15th Jun
States could issue press releases and politicians could mention it in speeches, but they don't ever seem to.
hellboy said @ 6:19pm GMT on 14th Jun
The grandma was allowing her home (knowingly or unknowingly)

If it was unknowingly then she wasn't committing a crime. Presumption of innocence is a thing, if it makes your job harder, tough shit.
Taxman said @ 7:18pm GMT on 14th Jun
The DA said she knew what he was doing because drug paraphernalia was everywhere. If she had knowledge then technically, it is eligible.

I agree in this case it was super flimsy, and I'm glad the Supreme Court ruled to tighten the state controls.
hellboy said @ 7:51am GMT on 14th Jun [Score:0 Good]
You don't seem to understand due process.

Asset forfeiture is in direct violation of the fourth amendment and is being abused all over the country.
Taxman said @ 1:20pm GMT on 14th Jun [Score:-1]
I understand due process quite well.

We hold the funds/property in suspense. You have your day in court.

None of this is done in a vacuum. Several branches of government are involved.

If you feel there is abuse, then I agree we should all take a look at the situation and fine tune it. As I said before, do not burn down the house to swat a fly. There are BY FAR more villains than innocents in this story.
mechanical contrivance said @ 2:09pm GMT on 14th Jun [Score:0 Underrated]
do not burn down the house to swat a fly.

And don't seize someone's house because someone sold weed in it.
Taxman said @ 2:45pm GMT on 14th Jun [Score:-1]
Property used in the commission of a crime (car used to move drugs, house to sell drugs in, etc.) is subject to forfeiture.

The son was drug trafficking in the house as a safe harbor. That safe harbor was removed. I'm glad she had her house returned to her. I'm assuming that she will, going forward, be more cautious about the activities that go on in the property.

We're sorry that innocents don't know their property is being used to commit crimes. However, we can't let criminals keep using that property.
mechanical contrivance said[1] @ 2:48pm GMT on 14th Jun [Score:-1]
The criminals can't use the property if they're in jail. There's no need to seize the property.
Taxman said @ 4:16pm GMT on 14th Jun [Score:-1]
This is a case of a mother and son, so again, I'm glad the property was returned.

The reason we seize the property is because law enforcement isn't JUST about catching the 'bad guys' when they commit a crime. It is also about dismantling criminal organizations which are pervasive, ever-changing, and grander than most people are aware. As an example, we had a human trafficker that owned several properties (some in nearby states) which he moved his victims around in. If we just sent him to prison, we knew for a fact that several of his partners would have just moved in and taken over the operation. By removing their key assets (what they use to commit crimes) these criminals have a much harder time restarting or handing off their criminal networks.

We try our best to treat everyone the same. If a house is used for trafficking, it shouldn't matter the sympathy the owner can garner. We actually have forfeiture coordinators that take into account who exactly we are seizing/forfeiting from to avoid situations like this. This story seems like the DA was focusing on the son and the mom was getting caught in the crossfire.
mechanical contrivance said @ 5:51pm GMT on 14th Jun [Score:-1]
You're implying that if the house wasn't seized, the son's partners would have continued selling pot there. Did he have partners? And why would his mom have allowed that even if he did?

And why not arrest the human trafficker's partners, too?
Taxman said @ 6:06pm GMT on 14th Jun [Score:-1]
I'm saying we try to treat everyone the same regardless of their sympathy garnering ability.

If there was a home owner next door that rented out to a drug dealer (because they pay double rent and always pay in cash, for incentive example) they would be complicit in providing safe harbor to drug trafficking. They could possibly lose the house, even though they didn't traffick themselves.

It would be unfair for that person to lose their house and the grandma not to. She's providing safe harbor, rent free, to a family member who is trafficking in her house. Maybe she knew, maybe she didn't know, it'd be a real hard sell to the AUSA and the judge. That's why I'm glad the house was returned.

In the end though, we're supposed to focus on the facts, not the people.

Yes, I understand you probably wouldn't want the house taken in either case but it's the law and the way law enforcement dismantles crime.

Crime doesn't pay. This is why.
mechanical contrivance said @ 6:26pm GMT on 14th Jun [Score:-1]
If crime didn't pay, there would be no crime.

As your your example of a homeowner renting a house to a drug dealer, what if the dealer paid the normal amount and paid by check like everyone else does? The owner has no idea he's renting to a criminal.

The criminal gets arrested and house gets seized. Now the owner just lost his investment, a huge chunk of money, for a crime he had nothing to do with. But if he shouldn't have lost the house, there is a procedure he can go through to get it back. It costs a lot of money (which he might not have) and takes a long time, during which he can't make any money off his investment property (I assume he still has to pay the property taxes on it and pay to heat it).

It's an enormous hassle and may bankrupt the owner, but it's the law and the way law enforcement dismantles crime.
Taxman said @ 7:26pm GMT on 14th Jun [Score:0 Informative]
The owner of the house and the renter would get "noticed" of the pending legal action against the house.

The owner would file a claim (it's a one page form) to the home, sign an affidavit that they had no knowledge of what was being done in the home. The case agent would be contacted briefly to see if this is a repeat with this owner, if they are involved in the investigation in any way, or if it is just a bad renter. The AUSA would agree, and the house would be released. We would continue prosecution of the renter. Total time under lis pendens 38 days.

Once we take ownership (forfeiture) of a home, we pay the taxes, electricity, water, and maintenance. If you petition to live it in it, you do.
mechanical contrivance said @ 8:20pm GMT on 14th Jun
I just figured out that seizure and forfeiture isn't the same thing. Does the owner get noticed before or after the house gets seized? What happens to the house between the time it gets seized and forfeited or given back?
Taxman said @ 2:40am GMT on 15th Jun
Once you realize seizure and forfeiture are different, the news reporting becomes a lot easier to see as one sided.

Seizure just means we've taken notice of something, and generally take it away or place a lien on it for safe keeping. The owner (ALL owners, wife, landlord, anyone we can find) are required to be noticed within 30 days. The notice lets them know the government believes the property or currency has been used in or is the profits of a crime. It provides links and information on how to claim the funds/property as NOT part of a crime or that you had no knowledge. If a petition or claim is filed, the forfeiture process immeadiatly stops. The seizure goes from administrative, requiring no judicial entry (I.e. When the news says "they took the money without even charging the person with a crime!") and makes it judicial. We are no longer accusing the property or funds of committing a crime. We are saying we think it was used in a crime, this person says it was not, or it was but they had no knowledge, and we all use the court system to figure it out.

Forfeiture is the last stop. It's where the property is actually taken away from you, you are evicted, because it now belongs to the US government. If we've gotten to forfeiture it's because a judge (not us) has issued a final order of forfeiture.
mechanical contrivance said @ 1:07pm GMT on 15th Jun
When does the notice get sent, before or after the property is taken?
Taxman said @ 2:58pm GMT on 15th Jun
When the property is taken (seized).

Now for houses, it's a post and walk, so really we've just liened the house. Eventually we will take full custody, which is when we would evict you. However, you are allowed to petition to stay in the home (such as if it's the only one you have).

For currency we will convert it into a check and deposit it into the treasury suspense account. We can pay that back to you in two weeks (wire or check from federal reserve) if we've made an error.

For general property it is handed over to a contractor for storage and maintenance.
hellboy said @ 6:23pm GMT on 14th Jun [Score:-1]
Property used in the commission of a crime (car used to move drugs, house to sell drugs in, etc.) is subject to forfeiture.

The fact that you can recite the law doesn't make the law any less bullshit.

We're sorry that innocents don't know their property is being used to commit crimes. However, we can't let criminals keep using that property.

You admit that you are punishing people for crimes they aren't even aware of. And thus you don't care about collateral damage, presumption of innocence, or due process.

QED.
Taxman said @ 7:50pm GMT on 14th Jun [Score:-1]
I've explained above that owners of property that DO NOT KNOW their property is being used are not eligible to have their property forfeited (it may be seized before we know that there IS a victim owner).

If you are complicit in its illegal use then we will see you in court.

The article here implies the DA pushed the narrative that drug paraphanelia was "all over the place" and so the mom knew (was complicit). That's super slim as far as I'm concerned, so I'm glad it was given back.
C18H27NO3 said @ 4:03pm GMT on 14th Jun [Score:0 Underrated]
There are BY FAR more villains than innocents in this story.

That almost sounds like you are ok with collateral damage. Same applies for those innocents that are locked up because of law enforcement/ justice system abuse as a result of human fallibility or the imposition of ideology and bigotry? The 'law' leaves too much room for abuse. Law enforcement is being given the benefit of the doubt at the public's expense. Law enforcement is to serve and protect, not control and occupy.

I'm not ok with collateral damage. Especially when it's accepted as a matter of protocol. For some people, that damage ruins lives, or fucks them up in the short term at best because of a mistake/ nefarious motives. The system is not designed to prevent this collateral damage, regardless of what you say. And I'm pretty certain you know more about the process than me.
Taxman said @ 4:36pm GMT on 14th Jun [Score:-1]
To say that it is not designed to prevent collateral damage is unfair.

There are hardship petitions, claims, dismissals, plea agreements, substitutions. There are several procedures to help innocents escape the process if we've made a mistake.

It is not perfect. Let's fix it together. However, the only thing I've heard from this group is "Burn it down! Burn it all down!"

I would argue that no justice system is able to completely avoid innocents. The idea is to weigh the risks, what are you stopping, versus who will be hurt in your enforcement.

I'm not ok with collateral damage, but I accept that it will happen. If you're saying the system can't exist if there is ANY collateral damage, then I say you're being unrealistic and are not prepared to deal with the very complex problem of crime on a countrywide scale.
hellboy said[1] @ 6:12pm GMT on 14th Jun [Score:-1]
No, you don't have "your day in court", because with civil asset forfeiture the burden of proof is on the person whose assets were seized even if they were never charged with a crime. Often it's just not worth the time and expense to get your property back.

You're like those clueless assholes who say "if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear".
Taxman said @ 7:45pm GMT on 14th Jun [Score:-1]
The burden of proof is on you to show where the funds came from. If you withdrew 40k in cash from your bank account and are driving across the country (perfectly legal), then you would be able to show that withdrawal. Everything involving cash (or any financial transaction) has a trail, it has to have come from somewhere. I don't feel this is that burdensome to show.

I understand this is a passionate topic, but there's no reason to be rude.

I have calmly been explaining the justification for the way things are. If you want them changed, that is fine, but let's assume good faith on both sides here.

youchoose said @ 4:07pm GMT on 14th Jun [Score:1 Underrated]
Nobody should lose anything at all over pot. Shit needs to change.

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