Civil Asset Forfeiture - The Impact of the Timbs v. Indiana Ruling

States involved in civil asset forfeiture do not have the right to ignore the Constitution, federal rules and what the Supreme Court states about something such as when a ruling comes down about a case involving these matters. It is important to understand the impact of various court cases and the ruling that Court makes.

Abused Tactic

Civil asset forfeiture is a chronically abused tactic that law enforcement engages in with certain assets and with specific situations. The Timbs versus Indiana case has a serious impact on changing these circumstances and altering the civil asset forfeiture in similar cases and charges with law enforcement officers. Monetary penalties that the state and local governments levy will also face impact through the decision of this and similar cases. The end result can also affect local municipal fines that can accumulate over time and affect those that cannot pay the fines which may cause them to increase exponentially.

The Tool to Combat Abuse

Through the ruling of this case, defendants have a new tool that can help them combat the abusive practices by local law enforcement and judges wanting to fine the individual for any infraction. The loss of assets through the forfeiture in these cases can severely impact the defendant and can lead to long-term situations in regaining lost assets. The local law enforcement officers may seize property when the individual is a defendant in a case such as a car, a house or bank accounts that may take months or longer to reacquire the legal way.

Taking Property through Asset Forfeiture

During specific types of cases, local law enforcement may seize property through a situation called asset forfeiture. The department will take assets that the accused owns or has in his or her possession and keep them during the case. The police and the prosecutors can retain these items for the duration of the case, after the case and sometimes permanently depending on the assets and the situation. Sometimes, the individual must provide documentation and other times he or she must follow specific procedures to regain this property. The seizure can lead to a complete and 100 percent forfeiture of these assets that requires reacquiring them in a certain manner.

The Impact of the Case

Through the Timbs case, it is possible to see a greater impact to civil asset forfeiture because the accused in the case suffered from both the criminal case for illicit drug sales and the subsequent depression and drug addiction and abuse after the forfeiture caused mental and emotional problems. The defendant was able to rebuild his life after the case and then move in a more positive path to overcome difficulties. The legal seizure of property through asset forfeiture through the criminal case contributed to Timbs’ mental and emotional turmoil, and the need to return these assets was great.

Revenue Raising

The ability to seize property and assets from those undergoing a criminal trial creates a stream of revenue for local law enforcement departments. If the accused suffers through a conviction, he or she may not have the assets returned. Additionally, if the person is not guilty of the crime, it is often next to impossible to return the items without serious hardship. Prosecution lawyers and law enforcement can use the assets acquired to pay for the structure and income for these professionals. It is a significant revenue stream that can profit the offices and departments.

While police officers can explain that an asset forfeiture is a tool necessary to remove drug trafficking, networks and distributors, these processes also affect others that may not have the same criminal charges brought forth. Some cities may use the asset forfeiture as a means to fund local agencies and offices. However, with the Timbs’ case, the impact may change this overall in the country. Assets forfeiture may become more difficult to carry out because of excessive fines applied to these situations through the seizure of property and assets. It is important for someone going through a similar process to contact a lawyer to assist with the return of assets and property.

Legal Support for Asset Forfeiture

The person facing a criminal investigation will need a criminal defense lawyer to both to represent the case and to help with returning assets seized during the investigation and case. The person that is given a not guilty verdict by the judge or jury should have the right to keep these assets without problems.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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