The government can’t just take and sell your stuff after an arrest- that’s the signal the Court’s Justices gave during recent oral arguments.
The custom, officially known as civil asset forfeiture and pejoratively as policing for profit, was justified by a limited reading of both the 8th amendment’s prohibition against excessive fines and of the 14th amendment which was meant to bring the Bill of Rights to the states. This strict interpretation paved the way for local governments to often initiate a parallel civil lawsuit in order to take your property following an arrest (e.g., suing to keep a car which was seized in connection with the arrest of someone suspected of Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)).
In a system with limited judicial oversight (see Krimstock Hearing) where police and local government are direct beneficiaries, there have been egregious and well-chronicled abuses, no matter the outcome of the criminal case (http://ow.ly/vR7V30mQGwx). At the Supreme Court, proponents went so far as to argue, with a straight face, that a Bugatti could be seized if it was going 5 miles per hour over the speed limit.
The US Supreme Court seems intent on stopping this practice of excessive forfeitures and a broad cross-ideological coalition of justices has emerged which seems poised to rule shortly. Putting a stop to such abuse would have a big impact in New York, especially on Long Island where Nassau County and Suffolk County account for 40% of the State’s seizures. Until that ruling is made, however, the practice continues checked only by zealous and experienced lawyers.
If you or someone you know had their property vouchered or seized and is now fighting to hold on to their car, cash, or real property, contact DeVerna Law; we know what to do and how to do it. We are here for you 24/7/365.