From the Institute of Justice:
(emphasis in bold is mine)
The Arkansas Court of Appeals on Wednesday upheld the civil forfeiture of almost $20,000 taken from a man during a traffic stop, even though he was never charged with a crime and prosecutors had previously attempted to dismiss the case.
Back in July 2013, Guillermo Espinoza was traveling with his girlfriend to Texas, when they were pulled over by the Arkansas State Police. During the stop, a drug dog alerted to a computer bag. Inside, police found $19,894 in cash, which they promptly seized. No contraband was found during the stop.
Although prosecutors in Hot Spring County never charged Espinoza with a crime, they filed a complaint to forfeit his cash in civil court. Espinoza challenged the forfeiture, arguing that “the stop, search and seizure by law enforcement officers was unreasonable, unlawful and unconstitutional” and violated the Fourth Amendment. He also submitted paychecks and tax filings to show that his seized cash was “lawful earnings,” and not drug money. “The state should not be permitted to profit from its own wrongdoing,” he added.
In May 2014, prosecutors filed a motion to dismiss the case, writing that the State of Arkansas “has decided not to pursue the forfeiture of the currency.” Unusually, the trial court rejected that motion. After scheduling a hearing, the trial court ordered Espinoza to forfeit his cash in September 2014.
One month later, Espinoza filed a motion for reconsideration, contending that the court “abused its discretion in denying the motion for order of dismissal.” He also claimed the court “clearly erred in granting forfeiture” because prosecutors did not meet the state’s standard of proof (“preponderance of the evidence”) for civil forfeiture proceedings. But in a brief, one sentence order, Circuit Judge Chris Williams denied that motion, ruling it was “without merit.”
Without merit?!? Arkansas just took $20,000 from a completely innocent man and the case to take it back is “without merit.”
If that isn’t evidence of systematic theft by that states government then I don’t know what is.
You might be thinking, come on, don’t sensationalize this, it’s just $20,000…
An Institute for Justice report found that between 2000 and 2014, Arkansas law enforcement agencies seized more than $80 million in cash and over 9,500 vehicles.
What government, red state or blue state, would give up that kind of gravy train? Especially when the rate at which they are doing it (and getting away with it) is at least double what it used to be.
In fairness to Arkansas it’s happening everywhere: