The Daily Signal, a project of the Heritage Foundation, has put together a fantastic cartoon that explains in just a few panels the corrupting effect of civil asset forfeiture:
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For a wordier look at how civil asset forfeiture is the greatest threat to private property that many Americans still haven’t heard of, take a look at this breakdown I wrote here at Rare. It kicks off with a story not so different from the one Heritage illustrated:
Suppose you decide to buy a used car from a guy on Craigslist. You’ve found the car you want, and you’re going to buy it outright. It’s only $4,000, and you decide to pay cash because it will be more convenient for both of you. So, on the day of the sale, you get the money and go to purchase the car.
On the way there, you roll through a stop sign. Bad luck—a cop saw you. He pulls you over, and while he’s writing up a ticket, catches a glimpse of your bank envelope in the passenger seat. Suddenly, he asks to search your car. You don’t have anything to hide, so what’s the harm, right?
The next thing you know, the officer is thumbing through your twenties. He grills you on why you’re carrying this much cash. It’s suspicious, he says. A check would have been easier if you’re really just buying a car.
“I’m going to have to confiscate this,” he finally concludes. You immediately protest: “On what charge? Am I being arrested? Can I call my lawyer?”
Nope. You’re not being arrested, and you can’t call your lawyer. In fact, you’re not being charged with any criminal activity.
This is called civil asset forfeiture—and you’re never going to see a dime of that money again.