Civil Asset Forfeiture – Supreme Court Rules On Due Process


The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the due process rights of two Alabama women were not violated when they both had to wait over a year for a court hearing to challenge the police seizure of their cars.

In a 6–3 decision, the Court’s conservative majority held in the case Culley v. Marshall, Attorney General of Alabama that property owners in civil asset forfeiture proceedings have no due process right to a preliminary court hearing to determine if police had probable cause to seize their property.

“When police seize and then seek civil forfeiture of a car that was used to commit a drug offense, the Constitution requires a timely forfeiture hearing,” Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote in the majority opinion, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, and Amy Coney Barrett. “The question here is whether the Constitution also requires a separate preliminary hearing to determine whether the police may retain the car pending the forfeiture hearing. This Court’s precedents establish that the answer is no: The Constitution requires a timely forfeiture hearing; the Constitution does not also require a separate preliminary hearing.”

Under civil asset forfeiture laws, police can seize property suspected of being connected to criminal activity, even if the owner is never charged or convicted of a crime. Law enforcement groups say it is a vital tool to disrupt drug trafficking and other organized crime.,B1AA,6HEI61,1NN6D,1

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