Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Cops Use Traffic Stops To Seize Millions From Drivers Never Charged With A Crime

License, registration—and your cash.
A deputy for the Humboldt County’s Sheriff Office in rural Nevada has been accused of confiscating over $60,000 from drivers who were never charged with a crime.  These cash seizures are now the subject of two federal lawsuits and are the latest to spotlight a little-known police practice called civil forfeiture.
Civil forfeiture allows law enforcement to seize property (including cash and cars) without having to prove the owners are guilty.   Last September, Tan Nguyen was pulled over for driving three miles over the speed limit, according to a suit he filed.  Deputy Lee Dove asked to search the car but Nguyen said he declined.  Dove claimed he smelled marijuana but couldn’t find any drugs.  The deputy then searched the car and found a briefcase containing $50,000 in cash and cashier’s checks, which he promptly seized.  According to the Associated Press, Nguyen said he won that cash at a casino.
Undercover Police
Nguyen was not arrested or charged with a crime—not even a traffic citation.  In the suit, Dove threatened to seize and tow Nguyen’s car unless he “got in his car and drove off and forgot this ever happened.”  That would have left Nguyen stranded in the Nevada desert.

Almost three months later, Ken Smith was also pulled over for speeding.  During the stop, Deputy Dove performed a warrant check and found a warrant for a Ken Smith.  On that basis, Dove detained Smith.  But according to a lawsuit filed by Smith, the Ken Smith on the warrant had a different birthday and was black.  The pulled-over Smith was white.  As the lawsuit puts it, Smith “should have been cited for speeding and let go, if there was probable cause for speeding violations.”

Read more http://www.forbes.com/sites/instituteforjustice/2014/03/12/cops-use-traffic-stops-to-seize-millions-from-drivers-never-charged-with-a-crime/ 

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