You earned the money you used to buy your car. But both your cash and your car can be seized by police in Tennessee – and you never have to be even charged with a crime or convicted for law enforcement to keep your property.
Critics of Tennessee’s asset forfeiture and seizure laws say the measures amount to policing for profit.
A recent news report included the story of a man who police suspected of dealing drugs. When police showed up at his home one day, he not there but officers seized his BMW while his father – a Vietnam vet struggling with health problems – slept inside the house.
An attorney representing the man’s father said “there’s a lot of ways” in which civil asset forfeiture can be abused.
The man was able to get his vehicle back, but the process took months, the news source stated.
A report by the Tennessee Inspector General said the asset forfeiture practice is out of hand. In fact, the Memphis Police Department is being sued for an illegal seizure.
The law was originally designed to take the profits out of drug-dealing, but it has evolved, observers say, because police departments get to keep the valuable property they seize – creating an incentive to seize more and more.
Davidson County District Attorney Glenn Funk said, “I don't think that we give anybody a gun and a badge and say go and improve your own life. You're there to protect and to serve.”
Those who are facing criminal charges for drug distribution, delivery or dealing should contact a Memphis attorney experienced in criminal defense who can help protect your freedom, property and rights.