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PROPERTY CONFISCATION - Printable Version

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- Jerry D Mead - 01-22-1999 11:54 PM

I've been predicting it for several years and now it's here. I predicted that when they could get away with confiscating personal property from drug users/dealers, they'd be doing the same thing DUIs. Justify a loss of freedom for one cause and the bad guys will soon expand it.

NYC has announced that anyone arrested for (note I did not say convicted) driving drunk will have their cars seized and not given back unless they are acquitted. (If it works as it does with drug seizures, they'll have to sue to get their property back.)

There are so many things wrong with this proposal I don't no where to start...like forget about "due process," the city will punish you in advance and it's up to you to prove your innocense to undue what they've done to you.

And who gets the money from the seized vehicles? If it's like the drug seizures it goes to the police and courts, giving the prosecutors a vested interest in convicting people.

Like a guy driving a $50,000 Mercedes is going to pay a much bigger price than someone driving a $600 jalopy.

Like, what about lease cars? Cars owned by the bank? Cars co-owned by spouses?

Hey! New York...your mayor is out of control!

The Curmudgeon


- Bucko - 01-23-1999 12:11 AM

Totally outrageous, and probably not enforceable in a court of law.

Bucko


- Jerry D Mead - 01-23-1999 03:57 AM

They get away with it for pot smokers...all they need to find is a few spent leaves or stems (that might have been left by the parking valet or some guest)and they can take you car, boat, plane or wherever the found it.

And it's the same argument used for roadblocks...it's worth giving up your rights to protect us from the evil of drunk driving.

It's the same argument for automatiC license confiscation without due process...anything in the name of protecting us from drunks.

Curmy



[This message has been edited by Wine Curmudgeon (edited 01-23-99).]


- tomstevenson - 01-23-1999 06:00 PM

It is outrageous, I agree, but before I make any substantive comment, Jerry, could you please clarify whether NYC is using the drug-dealer precedent to confiscate personal property, as you start off (and which is reprehensible anyway) or the car they're driving, whoever owns or part owns it, as you end up? It's bad shit whatever way, but whatever way it is does effect the response.


- Jerry D Mead - 01-23-1999 07:56 PM

Tom...I think it's only the autos being driven at this time. The NY Times story (you can get the entire thing off the web at their site).

The exact quote is: "...the cars of people arrested on drunken driving charges in NYC will be seized on the spot and later forfeited if the drivers are convicted."

"The city...will assume ownership of the seized vehicle...(which) could be added to the city's fleet or sold at auction. Several top city officials drive vehicles that were forfeited by convicted drug dealers."

The police commissioner claims that "...the city's administrative code give the police department the power to seize property used as a means of committing a crime..."

Several legal defense spokespersons point out that seizure laws are under intense scrutiny already and that some jurisdictions have been accused of seizing willy-nilly to increase their fleets (and presumably bankbooks).

JDM


- tomstevenson - 01-24-1999 05:54 AM

If the car belongs to someone else, I cannot imagine the city could hang onto it, and it will only take a few siezures of cars belonging to some writ-issuing fat cats and powerful corperations before a rapid retrieval procedure is worked out. That is, however, a side issue - the real question is should cars that belong to the "offenders" be forfeited. I'm all for possession of drug-dealer's cars, illicit funds in bank accounts etc, and I have no problem with taking away cars from real drunks in charge of a motor vehicle. In fact it should be illegal for drunken-drivers to own a motor car, let alone drive one. The law should, however, discern the difference between a drunken driver and a driver under influence, particularly as the latter might be under the influence in one state, but not in another. There is no logic to that and no justice either.


- Jerry D Mead - 01-24-1999 12:57 PM

Tom...Think twice before endorsing even drug-oriented property seizure...the problem is giving law enforcement and the courts a profit motive. We have had shameful cases here where someone's plane, boat or automobile is found to have a few seeds or stems of marijuana (perhaps left by a visitor, a parking valet, someone the vehicle was loaned to, whatever) and the cops have seized the property and the owner has had a devil of a time getting his property back.

And even in cases where the owner is found innocent of charges, they still have to sue to get their property back under most seizure laws.

There have been instances where valuable boats, houses and other properties have gone into disrepair from neglect, destroying much of their value, while these cases drag on for years. Even when the accused is aqcuitted, he pays a heavy price in legal fees to get property back that has often been lessened in value by police/court misuse/neglect.

I believe in due process. Convict the person first, and then visit whatever penalty you will, including seizure.

The drug versions of these laws also often serve as the worst kind of double jeopardy. A chap gets convicted of possession of a couple of joints, gets a $50 fine and probation for a first offense...and loses a $200,000 boat on which it was found.

They are simply too open to abuse.

The Everything Curmudgeon


- tomstevenson - 01-26-1999 11:30 AM

When I said that I'm all for possession of drug-dealer's cars, illicit funds in bank accounts etc, it was on the assumption that he or she had been found guilty of drug-dealing. Likewise the difference between a drunk-driver and a driver under the influence (or not, as the state may be). Having said that there are always exceptions such as the fithy-rich drug-dealer who can pay lawyers to keep him out of court long enough to salt away his funds and disappear along with them. In any case, whether it is drug-dealing or alimony, if the circumstances demand the court can freeze funds, and if the offence is serious enough keep the accused behind bars until the case is heard. This is the situation, I believe, in both countries and in general terms it is fair enough, although like every law in existence, it is subject to abuse. One of the biggest problems with the law in both our countries is the excessive use of precedents, but there is something wrong with your system if the siezure of goods by the courts to prevent the real bad guys from getting away with their crimes has led to arbitary siezure of cars by and for city officials because the driver had a drink or a friend left a stem of marijuana on the back seat. (And there is something wrong with the system in my country when they legislate against selling beef on the bone because there is a one-in-one-billion chance of catching CJD, whereas cigatettes claim 200,000 lives per year, yet they will not even allow harmless marijuana to be prescribed by doctors! Harmless - toxicity-wise - I'm not advocating driving a car or using machinery while high on anything.) Has anyone considered the moral position of getting rid of precendents and judging each and every case on its own merits? Perhaps if they did, the USA might really be the land of the free, instead of a country that prohibits an open wine bottle in a parked car, yet allows its citizens to pack a gun on crowded streets. I know which is the most dangerous.

[This message has been edited by tomstevenson (edited 01-26-99).]