Defining What’s Excessive In Police Property Seizures Remains Tricky

Tyson Timbs won his Supreme Court case in February, but he still doesn't have his Land Rover.

News Story (NATIONAL)

Martin Kaste
National Public Radio (NPR)
April 9, 2019
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Tags: Civil Asset Forfeiture


DETAILS

“I thought it was kind of ridiculous that they could take my vehicle so easily,” he says.

And yet this kind of confiscation is common. Called “civil asset forfeiture,” it was developed as a law enforcement tactic in the drug war of the 1980s. Authorities use the lower standard of proof of civil law to take property — usually cars or cash — based on the suspicion it’s associated with crime. In Timbs’ case, police suspected he’d used the Land Rover to transport heroin. Since the tactic was developed, billions of dollars in assets have been seized this way.