SCOTUS Rules Unanimously in Asset Forfeiture Challenge

Why is this on a gun blog?


Guns are often the target of civil asset forfeitures and are written into many states laws specifically as targets. A civil infraction or misdemeanor crime that already carries a prescribed penalty, fines or time, automatically also subject vehicle, firearms, and other property even tangentially connected to the case to forfeiture by the state. A parking ticket or running a red light or driving with a light out on your car could cost you your gun, even if that isn’t a specific penalty of the offense.

That’s how forfeiture works. “All your base now belong to us” if the property was ‘suspected’ being related to the crime or offense in some manner that property is now the state’s, not that it was part of the fine or penalty after conviction.

From Reason

The Eighth Amendment prohibition against excessive fines and fees applies to states as well, SCOTUS rules, opening a new way to challenge outlandish forfeitures.

States are bound by the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against excessive fines and fees when they seek to seize property or other assets from individuals charged or convicted of a crime, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously on Wednesday.

It’s a decision that hands a major victory to critics of civil asset forfeiture, and it opens another avenue to legal challenges against that widely used (and often abused) practice by which states and local governments can seize carscashhomes, and pretty much anything else that is suspected of being used to commit a crime.

Here’s how that did work/could work.

I get pulled over for ________ reason. Officer discovers AR pistol and a stock in my car, not even together. Suspected NFA violation carries a felony charge with a 10 year sentence and $250,000 fine. My lawyer calls bullshit, prosecutor agrees, I walk away my ticket instead of all the bad thing convictions… except the state kept my truck, my legal carried pistols, and all the stuff in my truck because it was connected to the commision of a crime.

They just kept them, they’re the state’s now. That’s how civil asset forfeiture has been used. It’s utter bullshit.

The ‘conceived’ notion is that Dougie McDruggiedealer gets picked up for heroin distribution and is going to prison. The state has license to recoup costs and generate revenue off his souped up drug runner sports car, weapons, stash house, etc. To ‘further aid the community’ and things along those lines. Sometimes that works. But opening a revenue stream where the accountability bar is so ridiculously low was bound to be abused… but don’t worry, they definitely won’t do this all over again with red flag laws. They pinky promise.

So, all hail the downfall of asset forfeiture.

Keith Finch
Keith is the former Editor-in-Chief of GAT Marketing Agency, Inc. He got told there was a mountain of other things that needed doing, so he does those now and writes here when he can. A USMC Infantry Veteran and Small Arms and Artillery Technician, Keith covers the evolving training and technology from across the shooting industry. Teaching since 2009, he covers local concealed carry courses, intermediate and advanced rifle courses, handgun, red dot handgun, bullpups, AKs, and home defense courses for civilians, military client requests, and law enforcement client requests.