Monday, February 09, 2009

We Don't Need No Stinkin Taxes

And why don't we need no stinkin taxes? Because we can steal the money.

A two-decade-old state law that grants authorities the power to seize property used in crimes is wielded by some agencies against people who never are charged with — much less convicted of — criminal activity.

Law enforcement authorities in this East Texas town of 1,000 people seized property from at least 140 motorists between 2006 and 2008, and, to date, filed criminal charges against fewer than half, according to a review of court documents by the San Antonio Express-News.

Virtually anything of value was up for grabs: cash, cell phones, personal jewelry, a pair of sneakers, and often, the very car that was being driven through town.

Some affidavits filed by officers relied on the presence of seemingly innocuous property as the only evidence that a crime had occurred.

Linda Dorman, an Akron, Ohio, great-grandmother had $4,000 in cash taken from her by local authorities when she was stopped while driving through town after visiting Houston in April 2007. Court records make no mention that anything illegal was found in her van. She’s still hoping for the return of what she calls “her life savings.”

Dorman’s attorney, David Guillory, calls the roadside stops and seizures in Tenaha “highway piracy,” undertaken by a couple of law enforcement officers whose agencies get to keep most of what was seized.
To keep the revenue flows increasing police are given a bounty on the assets they seize.
Under civil asset forfeiture, your property – not you – is charged with a crime. Hence the bizarre title of civil forfeiture cases: "United States vs. one 1998 Mercedes Benz," "California vs. 1711 Main Street," and so forth.

Once your property is charged with a crime, it can be seized and kept by police, even if you are never convicted of anything. An appeals court in Florida even ruled that police can personally receive bounties of 25 percent of the value of anything they seize from you, such as your car, bank accounts or home.

There are now more than 400 federal offenses and thousands of state and local offenses for which your cash, car, bank accounts and home can be seized – including shoplifting, hiring an illegal alien such as a maid (California), playing a car stereo too loud (New York), transporting illegal fireworks, gambling, having illegal drugs on your property, and merely discussing violating any law ("conspiracy”), such as underpaying your taxes.

More than $1 billion in property is now seized without trial each year from innocent Americans, according to the national forfeiture defense organization FEAR (Forfeiture Endangers American Rights)
All this theft stems from an old superstition called (well I can't think of what it was called - can some one help me out here?) which states that the property is guilty of the crime. I'm not making that up.
Civil asset forfeiture is based on the legal fiction that an inanimate object can itself be `guilty' of wrongdoing, regardless of whether the object's owner is blameworthy in any way. This concept descends from a medieval English practice whereby an object responsible for an accidental death was forfeited to the king, who `would provide the [proceeds, the `deodand'] for masses to be said for the good of the dead man's soul . . . or [would] insure that the deodand was put to charitable uses.'
And you know what? Theft by government has a long and dishonorable history.

Kings. The problem was the government was an agent of the ruler. And rulers never have enough money. Ever.
However, it remained in the king's interest to extend the list of offenses considered treasonous, since his coffers benefited [Pollock and Maitland, 1968, Vol. 2:500]. The dispute over forfeiture versus escheat continued on into the fourteenth century. Lords were alarmed that the king was calling so many offenses treasons, thus causing them to lose their escheats [Simpson, 1986:20]. In some cases the king did not return the land to the lord after a year and a day, producing additional consternation. The distinction between high and petit treasons established in 1352 solved the problem satisfactorily to the lords' favor [Bellamy, 1970:80-87, Bellamy, 1979].
As per usual the brigands running the show have forgotten that polite fiction that we in America hold to - in theory - that the government is the servant of the people. From time to time the principle is reasserted. And we may be able to say that the Lords of America solved the problem satisfactorily to the lords' favor. Sooner rather than later.

H/T Colleen McCool


rumcrook said...

I predict over the next four years, that theft of property by the government, will go viral.

it will reach levels that most americans will be alarmed by.

private property rights are on the wane.

Simon said...

In 2001 the drug police accused me of manufacturing methamphetamine. I was found not guilty in the criminal trial but this did not stop the state from forfeiting my home. The state also stole my two cars and my furniture, including computers, TVs and everything of value that they could get their hands on. And all this, even after I was found not guilty. My family was kicked into the street like unwanted dogs and we are all still homeless. The civil courts made claims that my civil rights to own property were being limited in order to help the government to prevent crime. This was a blatant lie and we have the statistics to prove it because the same drug crime of which I was falsely accused skyrocketed to over 7 500% within less than four years after my home had been seized. To put it simply let me just tell you that civil asset forfeiture is nothing more than legalized theft by government. Jacob Zuma, the current president of South Africa was accused of crimes that fit the Prevention of Organized Crime Act like a glove. Why has this law not been used against him? It makes no difference if criminal charges have been withdrawn. The state did not withdraw charges against me. I was tried and found not guilty yet on the basis of a balance of probabilities the state took everything from me. On a balance of probabilities, Jacob Zuma has no defence because the person who was accused of bribing Jacob Zuma has already been sentenced to a jail term of 15 years for giving the bribe. How will Jacob Zuma be able to convince anyone that on a balance of probabilities he did not know that he was receiving a bribe and was directly involved with fraud, corruption and racketeering? Is Willie Hofmeyr as head of the Asset and Forfeiture Unit guilty of corruption for not using the Prevention of Organized Crime Act against Jacob Zuma? Is Willie Hofmeyr guilty of being a human rights criminal for having thrown my family into the street after I was found not guilty of the crimes of which Hofmeyr falsely accused me?