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New law makes police report if they seize funds from individuals

When you're pulled over for a traffic violation, the last thing you'd expect is ending up in jail or having your money seized from you. That happened in a case recently, where a man traveling to an auction with $50,000 was accused of having drugs. His cash was seized, even though the officer didn't use a trained drug-sniffing dog and had not found any drugs in the man's possession.

Without a warrant, the officer managed to take the man's money. As a result, the man lost his restaurant, the items he planned to bid on for his restaurant at the auction and had to wait months to get his money back.

Civil asset forfeiture makes up as much as 40 percent of all police revenue in some Texan counties, and it makes up a substantial portion of police revenue in other states, too. Generally, the law is on the authorities' side, allowing the police to seize funds that might have been used to purchase drugs or other illegal materials.

The problem with this is that not all people are actually carrying large amounts of funds because of drug running. They may have legitimate business for which they need cash. In cases like above, no due process was used, and the individual suffered greatly as a result of an officer's negligence.

In Colorado, House Bill 1313 was signed on June 9. The bill doesn't abolish civil asset forfeiture, but it does require police departments to disclose their forfeiture proceeds each year. Law enforcement agencies would be unable to receive the proceeds from federal forfeiture cases if those proceeds were under $50,000.

The state wants more officers and police agencies to be held accountable for what they claim from individuals. By having to report, they will need to be careful of how they proceed when seizing funds.

Source: Aspen Daily News Online, "Go on, take the money and run," M. John Fayhee, accessed July 18, 2017

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