Wednesday, March 25, 2009

"Way, Way" Jurisprudence

No arrest. No charges. No money.:

FORT WAYNE--Going 62 in a 50-mph zone, a Jeep barreled west on a slippery, snow-covered Airport Expressway on Valentine’s Day and blew past an Allen County sheriff’s squad car.

One traffic stop later, two men inside the Jeep were outside being patted down by officers. They acted nervous, according to a police report. At one point they looked as if they wanted to fight; at another they looked as if they wanted to flee.

In the Jeep’s back seat, police found more than $26,000 in cash wrapped in a stocking cap.

Though officers held the two men for a short time in squad cars, they were eventually released without charges, save for the driver receiving a citation for driving with a suspended license.

And the money? The police kept it.

Yep. Whole thing. All of it. Legalized theft.

“If it’s way, way over and above what a normal person will carry, and if things don’t add up (on how it was acquired), we take the money,” said Lt. Art Barile, head of the sheriff department’s vice and narcotics unit and the Allen County Drug Task Force, a multiagency unit run out of the sheriff’s department.

How often money is confiscated from people not charged with crimes is hard to determine, Barile said, but his best guess for his department is that it happens “maybe 10 percent of the time” his department performs a seizure.(emphasis mine)

Now what would make a police outfit do something like that?

Most of the money seized comes from drug cases and can then be used by various law enforcement agencies.

Which, invariably, leads to this:

And at least one local agency, the Allen County Prosecutor’s Office, has taken a more aggressive approach in forfeiture cases, with the amount of money in its state seizure fund growing from more than $53,000 in 2004 to more than $105,000 in 2008, according to Allen County’s Chief Deputy Prosecutor Michael McAlexander.
Where have you gone, 5th Amendment?

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or PROPERTY, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Because it's "way, way" more than a normal person would carry should not pass the laugh test as substantive or procedural due process. But, when police funding is on the line, all bets are off.

H/T The Agitator

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