Thursday, March 5, 2015


White Collar Crime: Guilty Until Proven Guilty  

     As Americans we like to believe we live in a free and civil society.  This is easy to do because we don't struggle under oppression or have to endure the fearful weight of a radical regime or brutal dictatorship. We are a society governed by laws that protect us under a Constitution of our own making. In fact, these laws were designed specifically for the purpose of protecting us against unjust actions from our own government. But take a closer look into our free and civil society and you might not like what you see. Too often the laws that are supposed to protect us become twisted and turn into something that not only does not provide protection for it's citizens but allows the government to tilt the scales for it's own benefit.

     Case in point, asset forfeiture/seizure. Asset seizure was once a useful tool for getting tainted drug money off the streets and for recovering lost assets for victims of crime. However, this practice has now become an asset to local police departments to fill their coffers to buy new equipment and boost salaries. It is not unusual for a kick back situation to occur where a police entity will split the spoils with another jurisdiction. A small percent of the recovered assets may find their way to victims but this is not monitored closely. And in the event an accused is found innocent it is quite costly and next to impossible to have the seized items or their value returned. Asset forfeiture without due process is nothing more than state sanctioned theft.

(This according to he ACLU:)

Civil Asset Forfeiture

"Every year, federal and state law enforcement agents seize millions of dollars from civilians during traffic stops, simply by asserting that they believe the money is connected to some illegal activity and without ever pursuing criminal charges. Under federal law and the laws of most states, they are entitled to keep most (and sometimes all) of the money and property they seize.
 ..... In many jurisdictions, the money can go to pay for salaries, advanced equipment and other perks. When salaries and perks are on the line, officers have a strong incentive to increase the seizures, as evidenced by an increase in the regularity and size of such seizures in recent years. .....the arcane process of trying to get one’s property back is an expensive challenge.  ACLU believes that such routine “civil asset forfeiture” puts our civil liberties and property rights under assault, and calls for reform of state and federal civil asset forfeiture laws."
       We were all raised on the premise that an accused is innocent until proven guilty.  The example above from the ACLU let's us know that this is in fact a fallacy. And it gets worse. Due process is a thing of the past because the United States Supreme Court has determined that a grand jury indictment is akin to a guilty verdict. (See Kaley v. United States). According to the highest court in the land a grand jury indictment, (formerly known as probable cause), is enough to trigger the ungodly act of asset forfeiture/seizure. Without assets an accused loses his fifth amendment right to counsel of his choice which also violates the due process clause of the sixth amendment. It's like cutting off an accused arms and legs and then asking them to swim to shore. The grand jury was originally put in place so that no accused would be prosecuted without a finding of probable cause first. Should this basic right then be turned into an opportunity to rob a man and his family blind?  When the government deprives one of all monetary assets it not only takes away the accused right to hire counsel of his choice, (as he can now not afford  knowledgeable representation),  but has also deprived a highly trained attorney the opportunity to represent an accused who could, absent asset forfeiture/seizure pay for such representation. Defendants are instead appointed counsel that likely have no experience in white collar criminal defense which further deprives an accused of a truly fair and just outcome. 

     As a law abiding citizen of the United States of America I take extreme offense to the fact that our government has overstepped it's bounds with unfair asset forfeiture.  Who has decided that ALL assets are to be taken into custody before a finding of guilt when restitution designations have not even been assigned? And WHO DECIDED THAT IT WAS OKAY TO TAKE AWAY EVERYTHING BELONGING TO INNOCENT SPOUSES AND CHILDREN LEAVING THEM DESTITUTE? White collar wives and families are the first victims of this kind of crime yet they continue to be treated as a party to the crime. Guilt by association is no reason to strip a wife and children of their belongings. A free and civil society? A Constitution that is supposed to serve and protect us from unjust actions against us by our own government? I urge my readers to seek out Kaley v. United States and the resulting dissents and if this does not cause you acute concern then may God help you. 

     As an advocate for white collar wives and families I've heard too many horrific accounts of the feds knocking on doors in the predawn hours awaking children out of a dead sleep and terrorizing entire families all based upon a grand jury indictment of PROBABLE cause. I know of one case, (there are probably dozens), where an innocent spouse was handcuffed along with her husband for no other reason than to make sure she didn't interfere with her husband's arrest or the confiscation of all of their belongings. THESE ARE NON VIOLENT CRIMES committed mostly by upper middle class men. Where is the danger? Why the need to brutalize and traumatize an innocent spouse and her children? This kind of behavior by the police is revolting and obscene. The accused will have his day in court and be punished accordingly, and rightly so. But why must innocent wives and children be punished as well?   To not be given the opportunity to distinguish what property "is guilty" before everything is hauled off without as much as a crumb left behind just like the Grinch who stole Christmas, is not only heartbreaking but is nothing short of theft. The blind assumption that all property is "guilty" doesn't make it true.

     Innocent spouses and families suffer in the extreme both at the hands of a spouse they trusted and at the hands of a government that is bound by law to to serve and protect them. I ask you...where is the justice? 

For more information on asset forfeiture please visit:
Forfeiture Endangers American Rights FOUNDATION (FEAR)