Commentary: Tennessee’s Civil Asset Forfeiture Laws Must Be Reformed Now

The United States Constitution, specifically the 5th Amendment, states that we shall not be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law. Tennessee’s current laws regarding civil asset forfeiture include allowing money to be confiscated from people based solely on suspicion, with no evidence of wrong doing at all.

So if you’re pulled over in Tennessee, do your best to look innocent and broke; emphasis on broke.

Tennessee legislators need a refresher on the U.S. Constitution, or they may just need to read the constitution for their first time. Should a suspicious policeman really meet the threshold of due process of law? Only in the Twilight Zone or some third world dictatorship.

When a police officer’s job depends on how much he is able to confiscate, which is the case in some police organizations in Tennessee, officers tend to become the suspicious type.

Innocent until proven guilty might occasionally still work for us, but not for our cash. Many times money is confiscated from people by police with the person having his property seized never being charged with a crime at all. People having only a few thousand dollars seized might well find it more expensive to legally recover their money than to just chalk it up to experience and try to never come back to Tennessee.

Yes, many victims of the racket are from out of state. People from out of state make better victims. Because of the distance it’s more difficult for them to make the legal challenge for the return of their money. On some occasions when someone who has been robbed on the roadside hires an attorney to begin the legal process of trying to recover their money, the police attempt to settle with the victim by offering to return a portion of the money seized so that the victim can avoid the expense of the courts. So the banditos with badges sometimes add extortion to robbery.

Drought brought a man from Texas to Obion County Tennessee to purchase hay. The Union City police relieved the man of his cash. The man wasn’t charged with anything, but he returned to Texas with no money and no hay.

A man from Pennsylvania was in Tennessee to buy a car that he located online.

A police officer with a big tattoo on his neck in Monterey relieved him of $22,000 in cash, yet there were no charges or any evidence of wrong-doing. The man showed the officer the listing of the car he was in Tennessee to buy that justified the amount of money he had, but the officer forgot to include this in his report. The Pennsylvania man, after a few months of legal expense, was required to return to Tennessee to sign a receipt for the return of his money. My guess is this was this man’s last time in Tennessee.

One elderly lady who cashed out her $28,000 bank account, got stopped, her money seized, and spent $14,000 on attorneys to get her life savings back.

Such stories of abuse could go on ad nauseam and such stories in general don’t seem to be newsworthy.

The common mistake made by almost all of the victims is allowing a search of their property or vehicle without a warrant. For the most part it’s because they’ve done nothing wrong and have nothing to hide – but they don’t realize how the scam works.

Many times there is very little or no oversight at all on how this seized money is used by law enforcement organizations. (Use your imagination here, dear reader).

Tennessee’s asset forfeiture laws need changing worse than a three day old diaper.

Lobbyists for law enforcement bought Tennessee’s law enforcement the power to steal money. Shame on Tennessee’s law enforcement organizations, and even more shame on Tennessee’s legislators. Every attempt by citizens – through their legislators – to correct the civil asset forfeiture laws in Tennessee have been met by these powerful law enforcement lobbyists.

Our U.S. Constitution that all of our law enforcement officers swear an oath to defend is being violated by the very people who are sworn to protect our natural rights guaranteed by the constitution. The police who don’t abuse this unconstitutional power should have our respect. Those who do abuse this power have earned our contempt. If we have a law that can be abused, it will be abused.

If an officer asks to search your vehicle or property without a warrant or probable cause, or if he asks how much cash you are carrying, you can be reasonably sure the officer is seeking to rob you. Pull a Nancy Reagan here and just say, “No.” These officers should seek honest work.

It should be obvious to anyone by now that the war on drugs can never be won. The casualty in the war on drugs is the liberty of the American people. We really should be able to go about our daily lives without the fear of being robbed by the police.

If you’d like to get a higher education on this subject Google (policing for profit) or search it on YouTube. What has happened and is continuing to happen to people on Tennessee roads is an embarrassment to our state and should be an embarrassment to the Tennessee Legislature.

This is a nationwide problem, but Tennessee’s civil asset forfeiture laws are among the most egregious in the nation. Until our legislators and law enforcement people get around to reading the constitution and honoring their oath of office we can best protect ourselves by never, ever, voluntarily allowing a search of our property or vehicle.

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One Thought to “Commentary: Tennessee’s Civil Asset Forfeiture Laws Must Be Reformed Now”

  1. Linda Langford

    The ‘asset forfeiture law has wrecked our family’. It began December 25, 2016. And, has been a nightmare since and may never end. We are senior couple in our 70’s. Tennessee out of control officers of the law are reponsible for the loss of health, savings, and numerous assets including 2 vehicles and a new house. We would love to share our story.