No one who thinks we have a constitution would ever think that we have the forfeiture laws we have on the books. The laws are stacked against you and you have very little recourse.
Police who happen upon money or items they have probable cause to believe are drug related or may have come from illegal drug activity may be seized and possibly forfeited. True. What establishes the connection? No much is needed here.
If you have a drug past or someone you are with has a drug past, then anything you are carrying or anything carrying you may be considered drug related by any police officer with an active imagination or creative writing class under his/her belt.
If the circumstances surrounding the police encountering you are suspect, then anything you carry or anything carrying you may be considered drug related or the proceeds of drug activity. No kidding.
Client have been deemed suspicious for buying last minute tickets to Las Vegas. For buying a one way ticket to Miami Florida. In each case the client had cash on him. Thousands of dollars were seized from each client. Vegas? Rally?
If police smell marijuana it may give rise to suspicion the people in the car, what money they have and the car they are driving are all drug related.
So what happens if police believe the money you have on you or the car you are driving is somehow connected to drug activity? They can seize it and attempt to forfeit it. Meaning they take ownership. They do not have to pay you interest, rent or loss of value for the time they have your property. Even if you win.
The law in many cases shifts a burden to you to proof what you have you obtained legally and can prove it. It requires you to provide personal financial information in order to even fight for your property. And this can take some time.
In many jurisdictions it is not unusual for such cases to take in excess of a year to resolve. In most of the cases your property remains in government possession. You do not get compensated for the loss of use of your property during that time even if you win.
Most who want to fight will need a lawyer to navigate through all the legal requirements needed to be met so you can maintain your claim to your property. That cost money. Some charge by the hour and other will charge a percentage of the money or value of the property obtained. In both instances, it may prove expensive. This is what persuades many to just not even fight. The cost of fighting is sometimes not worth the risk of still losing in the end. Some think that is part of the plan. Make it too tough and too complicated and too long a process and most will just give up.
When police get to keep the property or share in the sale of the items, they have a continuing incentive to seize as much as they can. It helps their budgets and reflects positively on their evaluations.
There are a host of suggested reforms to make the law fair to property owners. But in the interim, these laws are really crazy.