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Civil asset forfeiture: sheer government power on display

| Dec 5, 2014 | Asset Forfeiture, Firm News

The presumption of innocence until proven guilty of wrongdoing is a bedrock principle in American law, an enduring maxim that is applied by courts across the country to ensure impartiality and fundamental fairness for any person facing state sanctions.

A recent article on the topic of civil asset forfeiture underscores how persons in Arkansas and elsewhere across the country are flatly denied the protection afforded by that presumption in instances where government authorities seize their property for alleged wrongdoing.

Increasingly, forfeiture-related stories are emerging in the media, as state and federal officials simply take the property and financial assets of people they suspect have profited from criminal acts.

Readers can perhaps understand civil asset forfeiture in a comparatively quick manner by thinking of things like illegal drug profits, money laundering, aiding and abetting terrorism and so forth. When criminal and civil authorities say that such conduct is occurring, they command a plenary power, namely the ability to summarily seize property without first having to prove guilt.

As a Forbes writer contends, that turns the “until proven guilty” assumption on its head, given the result that the burden in on an individual to prove innocence rather than on authorities to establish guilt prior to issuing sanctions.

That writer calls asset forfeiture “one of the most insidious violations of civil rights the nation has witnessed.”

Unquestionably, asset forfeiture can have an immediate and devastating effect on an individual or family, destroying financial solvency even in instances where wrongdoing was never actually committed.

And, certainly, the practice is a prime catalyst in many bankruptcy filings.

Persons with questions or concerns about asset forfeiture, or any other source of financial difficulty that makes debt relief an immediate imperative, can receive knowledgeable guidance and strong legal representation from a proven bankruptcy attorney.

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