New Law to Change Civil Forfeiture Procedures

New Law to Change Civil Forfeiture Procedures

Imagine getting pulled over by police, having your cash taken by an officer, and never being charged with a crime. It's legal and it happens more than you think across the state of Tennessee, but a new law is supposed to stop it from happening to innocent people.
MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Imagine getting pulled over by police, having your cash taken by an officer, and never being charged with a crime. It's legal and it happens more than you think across the state of Tennessee, but a new law is supposed to stop it from happening to innocent people.

It's called a civil forfeiture.

When police make a big bust, they hold a news conference to proudly show off the money and drugs they have seized, and mugshots of the people charged with the crimes. What you may not know is that people driving along the interstate have their money taken by police and were never charged with a crime.

If an officer suspects the money is connected to drugs it can be seized, which sounds legit until you consider there has been one case after another where money was taken from an innocent person.

Critics say one of the biggest problems is the reason the officer gives for taking the cash is flimsy. Secondly, when the officer initially seizes the money, the person whose cash is being taken isn't allowed to appear before a judge to tell their side of the story.

Once the judge signs a civil warrant, getting the cash back can take a lot of time and money.

Last month, lawmakers passed a new law that will allow people whose money is being seized who have not been charged with a crime to appear before a judge for a warrant hearing.

The new law goes into effect January 1. While it may help innocent people, critics still point out that carrying a lot of cash isn't a crime.

This new law only affects someone who had their cash taken, but was not charged with a crime. In most instances, criminal charges are issued.

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