We have so far not seen quite as brazen and unrelenting civil forfeiture abuses in Canada as have been typical in the United States. But it’s hard to escape the feeling that things are getting worse here, even as Americans are very slowly starting to demand that civil forfeiture powers be reined in. In Ontario, an Orillia couple named the Reillys stand to lose the two boarding houses they own even though they are not charged with any crime.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) recently issued new guidelines to prevent local and state police from using federal law to seize private property without a warrant or proof of a crime. But it’s a little early to be celebrating the end of civil forfeiture abuse.
Most U.S. states have their own civil forfeiture statutes, as do seven Canadian provinces, which means that in most of North America, police are still free to take people’s property — their homes, their cars, their cash — without even charging them with a crime, let alone proving one beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
It is difficult to think of a better example of how little will change thanks to the DOJ’s guidelines than a Virginia bust and seizure reported on recently by The Washington Post.
A high stakes game of poker was taking place in the basement of…
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