U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder announced earlier this month that state and local law enforcement agencies can no longer use federal law to seize an individual’s property or money without a search warrant or indictment.
Under the Justice Department’s “Equitable Sharing” asset forfeiture program, police departments have been able to seize people’s assets on suspicion that they are linked to illegal activity. Federal authorities have then adopted the seizures, taking about 20 percent of the cash and property, with the police keeping the rest.
The new policy makes exceptions for illegal firearms, ammunition, explosives and items related to child pornography.
Since 9/11, local and state police have seized more than $2.5 billion without warrants or criminal charges, according to a Washington Post investigation published last September.
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