Liberty State Representative Speaks Out Against Civil Asset Forfeiture

Liberty conservative state official Tony Lovasco continues to shine on civil liberties.

LCN previously covered his staunch defense of gun rights when confronting the issue of red flag gun confiscation orders.

Now, the Missouri State Representative is tacking civil asset forfeiture, one of the hottest issues that liberty advocates have had some success with in the last few years.

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Lovasco broke down what civil asset forfeiture entails:

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For the uninitiated, civil asset forfeiture is a process that allows the government to take your property or cash if they suspect it’s been involved in criminal activity, without getting a conviction or even charging you with a crime.

To get the property back, a person has to bizarrely prove that their property isn’t guilty of anything. And in the case that they fail to prove so, the law enforcement agency that confiscated it gets to sell it and keep the proceeds for itself.
While attending a public hearing as a member of the Special Committee on Criminal Justice Reform, Lovasco expressed his dismay with backdoor efforts to kill a solid civil asset forfeiture reform legislation. This bill, which was voted unanimously out of the Special Committee on Criminal Justice Reform, would have eliminated most of the negative uses of civil asset forfeiture.

However, Missouri legislators had other plans.

Indeed, Missouri has some solid civil asset forfeitures measures which make funds seized from asset forfeitures go towards public education. In theory, this curtails policing for profit. For these policies, it receives a favorable B+ rating from the Institute for Justice’s Policing for Profit rankings.

However, Lovasco sees a much more devious play at hand. In his view, civil asset forfeiture is all about money. So, law enforcement agencies try to circumvent Missouri state law by teaming up with the feds to get their hands on forfeiture proceeds. Lovasco illustrates this:

Well, some police and prosecutors disagree. They want to keep all that delicious forfeiture cash for themselves, so they use a federal program to team up with the feds and sidestep state restrictions. Rather than file forfeiture cases in state court, they simply work with the feds to file federal cases instead. In exchange for providing this work-around, the feds get about 20% of the proceeds, while the local law enforcement agencies who pressed the charges get the other 80%. Schools end up with pennies, if anything at all.

For the Missouri legislator, this involves clear violations of state sovereignty, due process, and just compensation for property seized. He declared that “using forfeiture proceedings for the purpose of gaining revenue can’t be seen as anything other than theft without compensation.”

Lovasco views civil asset forfeiture more than just going after the “bad guys.”  He stated that “even criminals deserve due process and constitutionally protected rights.” It really boils down to setting bad precedents further down the line.

Lovasco concluded with the following:

I’m sure it’s tempting to read all this and think, “Who cares? I mean, this probably only happens to drug dealers, right?”

Setting aside the inaccuracy of that assumption, such thinking is exactly why our liberties are eroding every day. If the government can do this to them, they can do it to you, too. A violation of anyone’s rights is an offense to us all. We must stand together and end civil asset forfeiture on every level.

Lovasco is 100% correct about civil asset forfeiture and how small abuses at the local and state level can sandbag into much larger abuses of civil liberties in the near future.

For that reason, liberty conservatives must stay active and never let their guard downs. It’s where we least expect it that the forces of tyranny work to undermine our most cherished rights.

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