Here's how forfeiture works in Texas: The cops take your money and property. They make you sign a form that if you relinquish the property, they won't file criminal charges against you.
As one lawmaker says:
“The idea that people lose their property but are never charged and never get it back, that’s theft as far as I’m concerned,” he said.
One mayor, in an attempt to justify the policy, says the cities need the money -- they may get an extra police car out of it.
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This comes as no surprise to me and other criminal defense lawyers representing those charged with drug crimes, but it's good to see it made public.
In an audit published Friday, Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine examined thousands of seizures between October 2003 and November 2005.
Fine's report states that drug agents rarely counted the cash they took, often didn't provide receipts for seized money, rarely recorded the seizures in agency ledgers and often didn't ask their colleagues to witness their counting and handling of the money.
What this means according to the Inspector General:
The lack of internal controls over the seized cash leads to accusations of theft by the agents, the report states.
What it means in my opinion: Sometimes less money is reported seized than actually is seized. Because of the faulty reporting, and because some may be less than honest about the amount seized, it's very hard to prove.
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