On Wednesday morning, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Timbs v. Indiana, a case that could have huge ramifications for the way states and local governments use civil asset forfeiture to target the property of suspected criminals. As most readers are probably aware, asset forfeiture is the process by which law enforcement can seize cars, cash, homes, and pretty much anything else that is suspected of being used to commit a crime or believed to be the proceeds of a crime. Often, suspects do not have to be convicted of anything—sometimes they aren’t even charged—before they can be deprived of their property. To top it all off, law enforcement often has a perverse incentive to engage in this sort of thing because the proceeds of forfeiture can get plugged directly into their own budgets.
You can read a summary of the case here, but the gist is that the Solicitor General of Indiana is of opinion that if speeding is a crime, and technically it is, then the state is empowered to seize the vehicle being used to commit the crime (speeding) even if the speed in question is only 5 mph over the local speed limit. Heaven forfend; this sounds like something that Illinois would try to get away with instead.
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