By M.D. Kittle / January 25, 2016 10 Comments
Mandrel Stuart and his young attorney found out firsthand the power of law enforcement to take what it wants through civil asset forfeiture. In August 2012, Stuart was pulled over on suspicion of a minor traffic violation. Although he was never charged with a crime, the cops seized $17,550 Stuart had with him. The owner of a small barbecue joint in Maryland, Stuart was trying to get his life on track after some past run-ins with the law. The $17,550 was his earnings from the restaurant, money he intended to put toward supplies and equipment. Stuart’s past made credit nearly impossible to obtain, so cash was the only currency of his business.
He finally got the money back — 14 months after it was confiscated. By that time, with no cash to cover the cost of his overhead, Stuart’s barbecue joint was long gone.
Along the way, Stuart resisted a settlement offer from prosecutors who said they would return half of his cash. “I paid taxes on that money. I worked for that money,” Stuart told The Washington Post. “Why should I give them my money?”...
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My Take - The argument cited in the article to justify this criminal activity by government agents is "nobody carries that kind of money around…anymore, so it has to be illegal." Well, first of all that's not true, but secondly - even if it were true it's their job to charge them with a crime, indict them with a grand jury, send the case to trial and either convict or release them - not to confiscate their assets without going through that process. A process designed to protect the innocent and punish the guilty by making sure a crime has actaully been committed. There's nothing in the Constitution that allows government to ignore those foundational rights. If there ever was a more blatantly unconstitutional action by the federal govenment and the states I don't know what it is.