Rick Walker Statement on Civil Asset Forfeiture
A foundational principle of our American legal system is that people accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty. The Fourth Amendment also guarantees that the American people are “to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects” from unreasonable searches and seizures. It is out of respect for this principle that I am for reforming the process of civil asset forfeiture.
While originally intended to be a way for law enforcement to go after the assets of narcotics smugglers, civil asset forfeiture far too frequently is used to take the property of Americans whose only “crime” was carrying cash on their person. The abuse of civil asset forfeiture laws creates incentives for our law enforcement officials to behave like highwaymen.
No one wants to prevent law enforcement from being able to prosecute actual criminals, however, police officers shouldn’t act like thieves in the process. The forfeiture of property should require a conviction.
But we have to remove the incentives for law enforcement to go after property, not criminals. This protects the rights of Americans, and lets law enforcement focus on prosecuting criminals.