What is civil forfeiture?

There are times when law enforcement in New Jersey can take your personal property without your consent. According to NJ.com, if law enforcement suspects that your property is somehow tied to criminal activity, they can take it under civil forfeiture. The problem is that the laws in this state are considered to be horrible because they do not properly regulate civil forfeiture.

This means that law enforcement has very loose guidelines on what they can seize. They can do this even if you have not been convicted of a crime or even arrested. They just have to have some suspicion that something illegal is going on. The worst part is that to get your property back, you have to go through a long legal fight. If someone else is using your property and it gets seized, you are out of luck and will have to fight to get it back, too.

Law enforcement cites civil forfeiture as a way to deter crime. They believe it helps to stop criminal enterprises and high-level criminals, but they use it on anyone. They also say civil forfeiture is beneficial for citizens because it helps fund operations. Those opposed to the law say it is violates due process rights.

Regardless, it is used regularly. From 2009 to 2013, the state used civil forfeiture to seize $72 million in property. However, not all property seized is reported properly. Local law enforcement may not report everything seized because there is not a hard law about reporting. This information is for education and is not legal advice.

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