Non-Profit Group Says VA Forfeiture Laws Are Bogus | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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    Non-Profit Group Says VA Forfeiture Laws Are Bogus

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    By Jonathan Wilson

    An Arlington-based non-profit says the laws allowing police to seize private property from suspected criminals are being abused and says police and prosecutors in Virginia are prime culprits.

    Scott Bullock with the Institute for Justice, says the laws give prosecutors the upper hand even when they haven't made a criminal case.

    "People don't know how to fight this, they don't have the resources to hire a lawyer, so then the government keeps the truck, keeps the currency, and then they are allowed to use this for their own benefit," says Bullock.

    Bullock says the Institute for Justice is considering legal challenges to civil forfeiture laws in several states, and says Virginia is among those with the most abuse.

    But Arlington County's Commonwealth attorney, Richard Trodden, says there's nothing wrong with seizing ill-gotten gains and turning them into a public resource.

    "This is for buying a computer, buying a squad car-things that are protecting the public. Yeah, there is an incentive, and were proud of it," says Trodden.

    Trodden also says owners of seized property have every opportunity to assert their innocence in court.

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