The primary reason why people feel anxious when interacting with law enforcement is the possibility of an arrest. Police officers could determine based on the statements someone makes or behaviors that they witness that a crime occurred. They may then arrest people and take them into state custody.
A large number of people arrested by the police eventually end up facing criminal charges. However, police officers don’t have to arrest you for an encounter with them to do real harm to you. There are scenarios in which law enforcement authorities can seize your personal property and deprive you of it permanently.
Do you have to worry about the police taking your cash or your electronics when they pull you over or come knocking on your front door?
How civil asset forfeiture works in Texas
In theory, the state can seize property that played a role in criminal activity or that people obtained through criminal conduct. If officers pull you over and you have $5,000 in cash in your vehicle because you are on your way to purchase a healthy, registered female Scottish Fold cat, they may not believe you when you tell them you have all that money for an animal that you want to buy.
They may instead accuse you of involvement in drug trafficking or prostitution. They will then seize the money, possibly at the same time that they arrest you. Other times, they may send you on your way after taking your property. Civil asset forfeiture laws in Texas do not require that the state convict you of a criminal offense. The officers involved just need to suspect that you use the property for criminal activity or obtained it through criminal activity.
People at airports and traveling in motor vehicles, especially close to the border, are likely at elevated risk of having large amounts of cash and other valuable physical property taken by police. Civil asset forfeiture rules can also apply to electronics, vehicles and even designer clothing.
How can you fight back?
Sometimes, defeating criminal charges can help those upset about recent asset forfeiture. Other times, when the state does not pursue criminal charges, it may be necessary to go to court and challenge the forfeiture of the items involved. Doing so can be an involved process, so most people bring in professional support after losing property through civil asset forfeiture in Texas.
When you understand your rights and also the kind of behavior that you can expect from law enforcement professionals, you will be in a better position to fight back against misconduct while also avoiding a criminal conviction.