The government loves taking people’s money. It likes it so much it gets pretty weird about it. Even considering all we’ve covered here on the subject of forfeiture, the legal theory deployed by the government in this case is astounding. From the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision [PDF]:
The panel reversed the district court’s judgment of civil forfeiture of $11,500 under 21 U.S.C. § 881(a)(6) from claimant Charles Guerrero, and remanded for a new trial.
When Guerrero, through a friend, tried to post the $11,500 as bail for his wife, the government seized the cash. At trial, the government alleged two theories: that the money was proceeds from the claimant’s drug deals, and that the claimant used or intended to use the money to facilitate drug transactions.
Charles Guerrero and his wife were no angels. But neither were they high-level drug dealers. Both apparently had crippling heroin addictions and engaged in a small amount of dealing t