Scott Adams may have described civil forfeiture better than anybody:
Just change out the text slightly. In the first panel Dogbert could say, “I’ve declared a law that allows cops to steal property if they can claim it might be tied to a drug crime.” In the second panel he could say, “When the cops seize the property we’ll put the burden of proving it wasn’t tied to a drug crime on the owner.” The third panel can be left unchanged.
The Wyoming Supreme Court recently refused to hear an appeal of a man who had $470,000 stolen from him under civil forfeiture laws without even being charged with a crime:
CHEYENNE — The Wyoming Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal from a man who contends it was unconstitutional for the state to seize $470,000 in cash from him and then seek to forfeit it on the grounds that it was drug money, all without charging him with a crime.
How can the State claim the money is related to a drug crime if it doesn’t even have enough evidence to charge him? That’s a trick question. Civil forfeiture laws have nothing to do with fighting verboten drugs. The laws are about one thing: giving the State yet another legal justification for stealing your wealth.
What about your constitutional rights? The government can’t just steal your money, right? That’s unreasonable search and seizure, is it not? George Carlin probably illustrated constitutional rights the best:
Now, if you think you do have rights, I have one last assignment for ya. Next time you’re at the computer get on the Internet, go to Wikipedia. When you get to Wikipedia, in the search field for Wikipedia, i want to type in, “Japanese-Americans 1942” and you’ll find out all about your precious fucking rights. Alright. You know about it.
In 1942 there were 110,000 Japanese-American citizens, in good standing, law abiding people, who were thrown into internment camps simply because their parents were born in the wrong country. That’s all they did wrong. They had no right to a lawyer, no right to a fair trial, no right to a jury of their peers, no right to due process of any kind. The only right they had was…right this way! Into the internment camps.
The Bill of Rights sounds like a wonderful idea on paper but that’s the only place it exists, on paper. Unfortunately the very Constitution that supposedly guarantees you your rights also gives a monopoly on law to the State. So the Constitution, especially the Bill of Rights, means whatever the fuck the State says it means. If you don’t agree you can take it up with the law enforcers who will tell you that they’re “only doing their jobs” as they beat your with a truncheon for refusing to surrender your cash on constitutional grounds.