In June I wrote about a man who had his life savings confiscated because his luggage smelled of pot. It was one of over 90 such seizures in a year at the Cincinnati airport alone.
In July I wrote about a man who had $44,000 seized at New York JFK even though he was never charged with a crime. He couldn’t get his money back because it took him 90 days to get assistance jumping through all of the required hoops to file a petition for the funds to be returned — and the government only gives you 35 days to file in federal court.
However civil asset forfeiture is hardly a uniquely American problem. Via uggboy on Milepoint, a male model who used to work at Dublin airport (and apparently wasn’t famous enough) was stopped there and had 570,000 euros (US$646,000) confiscated.
The man was released after questioning (which underscores there was no evidence of a crime). His money was not. “Revenue officials immediately made a court application to retain the cash while they investigate whether it is the proceeds of crime.” (Emphasis mine.)
he man will be without his funds for three months at a minimum if the government determines they cannot find any evidence of criminal activity. Other than carrying lots of money, which is apparently in and of itself punishable by at least temporary forfeiture of that money.
He was flying from Ireland to Belgium — both EU countries though Ireland is not a Schengen country. Had he been entering or leaving the EU he would have been required to declare the cash, and subject to a fine for failure to do so. He was not.
In the U.S., in the event someone goes through the time and expense to challenge the government’s seizure of cash, the standard is ‘preponderance of the evidence’ rather than ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ — the government gets to show it’s ‘more likely than not’ that the property was in some way tied to illicit activity. Property doesn’t get due process rights.