Having a charge dismissed– even winning at trial–does not mean you won’t be punished. Here’s a second way that the innocent get punished.
Just being suspected of wrong-doing, even if later found “not guilty” still can mean losing your job, your driver’s license, and your property.
The U.S. Supreme Court will soon hear arguments about Ramsey County’s practice of charging people “booking fees” when they are arrested, whether or not they are ever found guilty of anything.
Just being suspected of wrong-doing, even if later found “not guilty” still can mean losing your job, your driver’s license, and your property. I will address each in separate blog posts this week.
In “Part I,” I discussed how the DHS can (and will) disqualify you for your job, even as a medical doctor, if you’re so much as accused of any of 150 crimes, some as minor as harassing phone calls, even if you’re found not guilty. You can also lose your driver’s license and be saddled with a DWI-related offense on your driving record for being charged, even if found not guilty. I discussed this in Part II of this series.
The Innocent Get Punished with Property Seizures
The practice of civil forfeiture has been in the news a lot recently, and that’s good. The practice whereby police seize and keep the property of people suspected of a crime needs to be re-examined and eliminated. As explained by Radley Balko, now of the Washington Post,
“Under civil forfeiture laws, police and prosecutors can seize cash, cars, homes and other property on the mere suspicion that it is connected to criminal activity. No charges or convictions are required.”
The process for “winning back” your forfeited property is byzantine and almost certainly requires hiring an attorney.
The icing on this particular cake is that if a cop says he suspects you of a crime and takes your property, the police get to keep at least a portion (usually 1/3 in Minnesota) — even if they never charge you with a crime!
Other Property Seizures:
Civil forfeiture is the law, codified in state and federal statutes. The law has to be changed.
But other seizures happen without statutory authority or statutory remedy.
Here’s an example: Mohamed is a licensed conceal-carry permit holder. He has complied with the law to the letter. He purchased a firearm legally and took the course and got a conceal carry permit.
Then the State robbed him of his property.
They took his gun as evidence of a crime he was arrested for. They performed DNA tests and finger print tests and determined that the gun did not support their case. With that and other developments, I was able to get all of the charges dismissed. However, the police still won’t return his gun, even though the law says they have to. The process for getting the gun back, even after charges are dismissed, is more time-consuming and expensive than buying a new gun.
Another example: Dan Rassier, who was wrongly suspected of being involved in the Jacob Wetterling murder, is still trying to get seized property returned seven years after it was taken. The actual murderer has been caught and plead guilty, but the police still won’t return Rassier’s property even though he has been cleared of any involvement and is only “guilty” of living near the scene of the now-solved crime.