On, Tuesday, June 25, 2019 the FBI tweeted a video of cute puppies.
But there was a twist.
It used the puppies in the video to rationalize civil asset forfeiture laws.
The tweet specifically said, “Civil forfeiture laws are helping the FBI and its partners get dogs rescued from dogfighting rings positioned to be treated, rehabilitated, and moved into better situations.”
— FBI (@FBI) June 25, 2019
Despite the adorable imagery, civil asset forfeiture is nothing to get warm and fuzzy about.
Civil asset forfeiture is among the most controversial issues in America given that it’s “a process by which the government can take and sell your property without ever convicting, or even charging, you with a crime.”
Due to the civil nature of the procedures, defendants do not enjoy the same protections that are given to criminal defendants. So, if an individual is not found guilty of a crime, it does not guarantee that the government will give them their property back.
No one likes high taxes, so municipal governments and their law enforcement colleagues, will find ways to raise revenues.
Civil asset forfeiture is one of the ways that cash-strapped local governments raise revenue when conventional taxation methods are not available to them. This has proven to be quite lucrative for law enforcement agencies, who pocketed a cool $4.5 billion in 2014 alone.
Items such as cars, cash, and real estate are all fair game under civil asset forfeiture. These can be taken away merely on a suspicion that an individual was involved in criminal activity while using those assets. Due process goes out the window as a criminal conviction is not necessary for this property to be seized.
The FBI can post cute video all it wants, but this type of propaganda glosses over the insidious nature of asset forfeiture.
In the supposed “land of the free”, we continue to see egregious violations of basic civil liberties.