In a groundbreaking action for civil liberties, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced earlier this month that federal asset forfeiture laws will be changing to limit law enforcement authorities’ power and better protect certain rights of the American public. These changes, which are the first such changes that have been implemented in these laws in their 30-year history, include that police now either have to:
- Have search warrants in order seize property from people or
- Have to have already filed criminal charges against people before seizing their property.
Before the Changes to Federal Asset Forfeiture Laws
Holder’s announcement reveals a remarkable protection for the general public, as prior to these changes to federal asset forfeiture laws, cops could seize cash and other property from people:
- During traffic stops
- Even if or when no crime was committed and/or no criminal charges were ever ultimately filed against people.
In fact, as since 2008, local and state law enforcement agencies in the U.S. have reportedly made upwards of 55,000 seizures totaling more than $3 billion as part of the “Equitable Sharing” program, which is the Justice Department’s name for its federal asset seizure program.
Changes to Federal Asset Forfeiture Laws: More Important Info to Know
While these changes to federal asset seizure laws have been hugely praised by some, it’s important to note that:
- There are some noteworthy exceptions to the changes in federal asset forfeiture laws. For instance, police can still seize certain items – like illegal firearms and sexual content featuring children – without having warrants or official criminal charges filed ahead of time.
- Law enforcement authorities have largely opposed these changes, as they will likely have a significant impact on these authorities’ budgets in the coming year.
- When people have their assets seized by authorities as part of a criminal investigation, they have the opportunity to get these assets back, but it can take time and the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney to do so.
You Can Trust the Broomfield Criminal Defense Lawyers at the Datz Law Firm
Have you or a loved one been charged with a misdemeanor or felony offense? If so, the Broomfield criminal defense attorneys at The Datz Law Firm are ready to provide you with superior defense representation. At The Datz Law Firm, we know how stressful and consuming serious legal problems can be. That’s why we’re here to help you resolve your legal issues, get through these challenging times and move forward into a brighter future.
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