Civil asset forfeiture has become a hot topic nationally, and for good reason. For those of you who aren’t sure what it is, basically it’s a civil proceeding whereby law enforcement takes property – cash, real estate, vehicles, etc. – they feel may have been involved in committing a crime. In order to get it back, you have to prove that your property wasn’t involved in committing a crime. What’s worse, in many states if you can’t prove that your property wasn’t used in a crime the cops get to keep your stuff.
If you think that sounds like the sort of upside down policy you’d find applied by the kleptocratic regime of some tinpot dictator, you’re right. Yet it happens here in America with shocking regularity.
The ACLU has more.
Of course, some states are worse than others when it comes to using civil asset forfeiture, so you may be wondering how North Dakota stacks up. According to FreedomWorks, which just released a review of civil asset forfeiture policies in the various states, our state is not terrible but not great either.
We get a B- grade, because while seized assets in our state don’t get to be kept by the cops your property is guilty until proven innocent. You can read the full report below; here’s North Dakota’s summary.
But really, the only acceptable policy when it comes to this is a complete ban on civil asset forfeiture. Property cannot, by itself, commit a crime. Guns don’t kill without someone to pull the trigger. Money is not stolen without someone to take it. The idea that we can somehow convict property of crimes using the lower evidentiary standards of civil court is the sort of ridiculous legal concoction which has no place in a free society.