Civil Forfeiture: Unconstitutional and Unfair Edward Maggio, Esq.
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Civil Forfeiture: Unconstitutional and Unfair Edward Maggio, Esq.

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Did you know that Salem, West Virginia (not the Salem that burned all of those witches in the late 17th century, just another city that bears its name) still has a law on the books that makes it illegal to eat a piece of candy less than ninety minutes before church service begins on a Sunday?

Edward Maggio, Esq. says that most of the ridiculous laws that federal, state, and local governments have on their books exist simply to be made fun of by online list articles, are never enforced, and only persist because no one has bothered to go back through the books and remove that law that prohibits bartenders in North Dakota from serving pretzels and beer at the same time.

One of the most ridiculous laws, however, is still actively enforced. It’s called civil forfeiture, and in short, it means that if the police suspect you of committing a crime, that can seize your possessions and sell them for their own profit. Yes, you read that correctly. You don’t have to be charged or convicted of a crime (that’s called criminal forfeiture and still sounds pretty unfair). You just have to be suspected of a crime. A police department could list you as a suspect of a crime, come and collect your car, your laptop, all your clothes, the deed to your house, etc. and sell any and all to fund that department’s own budget.

That is a scenario that could happen—and as unbelievable as it sounds, it does happen. Before we get to the opinion, let’s look at the facts by Edward Maggio, Esq. . The Fourth Amendment states, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.” Some proponents have gone on to cite the last half of the amendment, which discusses warrants issued on probable cause: “…and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

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Publié par
Publié le 17 avril 2015
Nombre de lectures 3
Langue English

Civil Forfeiture: Unconstitutional and Unfair
Edward Maggio, Esq.

thDid you know that Salem, West Virginia (not the Salem that burned all of those witches in the late 17 century,
just another city that bears its name) still has a law on the books that makes it illegal to eat a piece of candy
less than ninety minutes before church service begins on a Sunday?

Edward Maggio, Esq. says that most of the ridiculous laws that federal, state, and local governments have
on their books exist simply to be made fun of by online list articles, are never enforced, and only persist
because no one has bothered to go back through the books and remove that law that prohibits bartenders in
North Dakota from serving pretzels and beer at the same time.

One of the most ridiculous laws, however, is still actively enforced. It’s called civil forfeiture, and in short, it
means that if the police suspect you of committing a crime, that can seize your possessions and sell them for
their own profit. Yes, you read that correctly. You don’t have to be charged or convicted of a crime (that’s called
criminal forfeiture and still sounds pretty unfair). You just have to be suspected of a crime. A police department
could list you as a suspect of a crime, come and collect your car, your laptop, all your clothes, the deed to your
house, etc. and sell any and all to fund that department’s own budget.

That is a scenario that could happen—and as unbelievable as it sounds, it does happen. Before we get to the
opinion, let’s look at the facts by Edward Maggio, Esq. . The Fourth Amendment states, “The right of the
people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and
seizures, shall not be violated.” Some proponents have gone on to cite the last half of the amendment, which
discusses warrants issued on probable cause: “…and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause,
supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or
things to be seized.”

The language of this amendment is very important. It does not say that a warrant (which would obviously
constitute suspicion) strips a person of his right to be secure in his person, house, papers, and effects. That
right is finite. It does not say “shall not be violated unless a warranted is issued.”
The Fifth Amendment, after discussing double jeopardy at length, says, “No person shall…be deprived of life,
liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just
compensation.”

It’s fair to say that some of the amendments in the Bill of Rights are open to interpretation. The language in
these instances, however, is very clear.

The origin of this concept of civil forfeiture predates even the Salem witch trials. According to the British
Navigation Acts, which were written and enacted while England was still aggressively vying to take over the
entire world, all ships that were taking goods to England or taking goods away from England (essentially, any
ship that would dock at a British port), had to fly a British flag. If they did not, both the ships and the goods they
carried could be taken and added to the crown’s fortune. Why? Because it was often much easier to just seize
the goods and the ship than it was to track down those who were violating the law.

These laws carried over into US law, with cases being upheld by the Supreme Court right and left and new and
more exacting civil forfeiture laws being added to the books, all the way up to the today. These new laws
allowed forfeiture for everything from suspicious of theft to drug trafficking to murder. Special funds were set up
to hold revenues.

Here’s the bottom line per Edward Maggio, Esq. research: if everyone in law enforcement was completely
honest and only had the best intentions at heart, civil forfeiture, despite being wildly unconstitutional, might at
least be fair. Unfortunately, it’s just not the case. Law enforcement personnel know that they benefit directly
from civil forfeiture. Their equipment, vehicles, and sometimes salaries are paid out of civil forfeiture funds. This
opens a huge door for corruption—one that is often used.
Only Wisconsin and Nebraska have a clause in their civil forfeiture clauses that requires law enforcement to
adhere to the “beyond a reasonable” standard required to actually charge and convict someone of a crime.
What does this mean? It means that charged and convicted criminals have more rights (even forfeiture rights)
than innocent people whose possessions are taken under civil forfeiture. Furthermore, in these cases, the
government requires the owner to prove his innocence—completely negating that whole “innocent until proven
guilty” sentiment our judicial system is supposed to be built on.
To know more about Edward Maggio, Esq. visit at : https://www.linkedin.com/pub/dir/Edward/Maggio