As a Kansas
criminal defense lawyer, my passion is to defend people against prosecutors accusations
and charges. However, that representation sometimes crosses over from
criminal law into civil law. This is due to often assisting my client
with related administrative actions taken by the government, tax liens,
restitution issues, and forfeiture actions.
The forfeiture action is something when the county attorney, district attorney,
or city prosecutor literally seizes property from its citizens. They then
go on to sell the property, to make money for the city or county. Does
that sound like a conflict of interest or a government with too broad
of power? It should! However, they indeed have this power. They use it
too! In fact, it was specifically authorized by our Kansas legislatures
within Kansas Statutes Chapter 60 Article 41. Under K.S.A. 60-4101, there
doesn't even have to be an accompanying criminal prosecution, although
there usually are. Yes, this happens right here in Johnson County, KS.
This begs the question. When did our police force go from "Serve and
Protect" to "Seize and Profit?!?" Cops can take citizen's
property and cash, without proving guilt or even charging them. Instead,
they just need to suspect that the assets are tied in some way to illegal
activity. Kansas lists out what activity this includes under K.S.A. 61-4104.
I have seen many things taken, most often including cars, money, and guns.
The funds gained from these seizures goes toward the city to help fund
their own salaries, the police station, and etc. The problem is, that
it causes an obvious conflict of interest as it gives law enforcement
a strong incentive to misuse the asset forfeiture provisions and laws.
It then leads to unconstitutional searches, racial profiling, and needless
intrusion into people's lives. Over money.
When the assets are taken by the police, there is at least some semblance
of due process, in that you can file a petition to try to get the items
back. However, you have to know the systems, will likely need a lawyer
(which may cost more than the item seized), and prevail in a trial over
the matter. I guess you can call that fair and "due process."