For too long, our civil asset forfeiture laws have flipped the presumption of innocence on its head – forcing people to prove their innocence to the government to keep their own property.
This creates perverse incentives and damages community relations, making their job harder in the long run.
According to the Institute for Justice, a public interest law firm, South Carolina earns a galling D- for our state’s civil forfeiture laws. Making matters worse, the Greenville News found that one-third of cash forfeitures involved $500 or less – resulting in many people not even attempting to get their property back.
Criminals should be held accountable, and law enforcement should be able to seize property when they suspect it was used in a crime. But forfeiting of property is a serious matter, and it is essential that property owners’ due process rights are protected.