Can Shark Fins Break the Law? Yes.

The true strange news for today is something which sounds impossible to some: property and cash can be considered guilty of a crime. In the United States police can confiscate personal property even if the owner is not involved in any crime. This so-called civil asset forfeiture results in some very strange court cases, such as “the United States versus $3000” or “United States v. Approximately 64,695 Pounds of Shark Fins” and even “United States v. One Tyrannosaurus Bataar Skeleton.” Since the person committed no crime, the property is considered to have committed a crime. This is the justification for seizure.

Once an asset is seized, the burden of proof shifts to anyone claiming an ownership interest in the property to prove its “innocence” by a preponderance of the evidence in civil court (Asset For- feiture Office [AFO], 1994).

Via Springer

In other words, the seized property is guilty until proven innocent. Wikipedia had this:

Civil forfeiture in the United States, also called civil asset forfeiture or civil judicial forfeiture or occasionally civil seizure, is a legal process in which law enforcement officers take assets from persons suspected of involvement with crime or illegal activity without necessarily charging the owners with wrongdoing. While civil procedure, as opposed to criminal procedure, generally involves a dispute between two private citizens, civil forfeiture involves a dispute between law enforcement and property such as a pile of cash or a house or a boat, such that the thing is suspected of being involved in a crime. To get back the seized property, owners must prove it was not involved in criminal activity.

… Proponents see civil forfeiture as a powerful tool to thwart criminal organizations involved in the illegal drug trade, with $12 billion annual profits, since it allows authorities to seize cash and other assets, from narcotics trafficking. They also argue that it is an efficient method since it allows law enforcement agencies to use these seized proceeds to further battle illegal activity, that is, directly converting value obtained from illegal items for law enforcement purposes by harming criminals economically while helping law enforcement financially. Critics argue that innocent owners can become entangled in the process to the extent that their right to property is violated, with few legal protections and due process rules to protect them in situations where they are presumed guilty instead of being presumed innocent. Further, critics argue that the incentives lead to corruption and law enforcement misbehavior. There is consensus that abuses have happened but disagreement about their extent as well as whether the overall benefits to society are worth the cost of the instances of abuse.

Is this a revival of Animism? I can read this and understand the words, but I still don’t really get it. The idea that people accept that property can commit a crime is beyond my comprehension. Then again, the USA has changed a lot in my lifetime.

Many of you have this problem I have had, holding to old ways, to ideals instilled in a civics or American History class, to the bygone ways of the old days. It is now time to adjust, to accept the current reality. In this new world of 2018 the way things are is nothing but the balance of consensus of its citizens, through action and inaction.

Thus, we have, as a people, accepted among other unlikely things that in the USA, any person who travels with cash should suspect his/her money is up to no good. It probably wants to buy drugs.

Doubt any of this (and more) at your peril and don’t complain.

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