Civil asset forfeiture is a nasty legal mechanism that allows the government at the federal, state, city and county level to steal on a massive scale even if a person has not been arrested or convicted of a crime.
Civil Asset Forfeiture - The Government's License to Steal
Many if not most of the victims of civil asset forfeiture are poor and middle class folks who don't have the resources to fight back. Government never goes after rich folks who can afford to hire an attorney.
Horrifying as civil asset forfeiture statutes are, these instruments of terror and legal plunder have taken on a new dimension - military civil asset forfeiture.
Military Asset Forfeiture
The Department of Defense Criminal Investigation Service now has the ability to use federal asset forfeiture and “Equitable Sharing” provisions to seize and forfeit property:With the US military and Department of Defense actively pursuing civil asset forfeiture, this constitutes a dangerous 'crossing of the Rubicon' because the military is now vested with powers it was never intended to have.
"In order to gain sharper teeth in its investigations and prosecutions, DCIS added something more to its arsenal in 2007. A Memorandum of Understanding outlining basic functions and guidelines of DCIS’s participation in the DOJ’s Asset Forfeiture Program was formalized on May 25, 2007. Before this MOU became official, DCIS could only seek civil judgments and settlements for large sums of money as some form of financial punishment.
Assets being sought for forfeiture by DCIS are entered into DOJ’s Consolidated Asset Tracking System (CATS). DOJ’s CATS system, a controlled DOJ database, tracks assets through the forfeiture process and gives the Attorney General a good picture of what assets are being forfeited, in what amounts, from whom, and by what investigative agency. CATS, however, is only as accurate as the end user or data entry specialist who inputs the information at the local level. If assets are being forfeited but are not entered into CATS, DOJ has no other way to know what assets are being forfeited by each investigative agency. As the forfeiture partnership progresses, CATS should provide an accurate reflection of the assets being forfeited by DCIS.
Another aspect of the DOD/DOJ MOU is that the United States Marshal’s Service (USMS) will be the custodian of all assets seized when DCIS is the lead investigative agency. This is common practice for other DOJ criminal investigative agencies such as the DEA, FBI, and some non-DOJ participating investigating agencies such as the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS).
Part of the rationale for establishing DCIS as a participating agency in the DOJ Asset Forfeiture Program, specifically the Assets Forfeiture Fund, are the two DCIS capabilities that were not available before 2007. As previously described, DCIS now has the ability to take [*204] the profit out of crime affecting DOD and its sub-agencies. Additionally, the MOU gives DCIS the ability to receive equitable sharing funds directly from the DOJ Assets Forfeiture Fund. Equitable sharing is available to DCIS if it was not the lead investigative agency seeking forfeiture on a case but contributed to the investigation. The MOU establishes that DCIS can not only seek equitable sharing from DOJ criminal investigative agencies, but also investigative agencies that participate in the Treasury Fund and Postal Fund. An example of this would be when IRS Criminal Investigations is the lead agency on a forfeiture case that DCIS substantially assisted. Funds shared and received must be used in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 524(c), the Attorney General’s Guidelines on Seized and Forfeited Property (July 1990), and DOJ’s policies.