Legal Theft: Texas Police Seize Man’s Life Savings, State Puts Cash on Trial

In May of 2019, Ameal Woods set out for Houston to purchase a second tractor-trailer and grow his trucking business. Red and blue lights flashed behind Woods as he drove through Harris County, despite the fact that his family had saved more than $40,000.

Woods was accused of following a truck too closely by a sheriff’s deputy. He did not receive a ticket from the deputy, but he did take all of Woods’ cash.

Texas is going to court this week to ensure that Woods never receives his life savings back.

According to Fox News, criminal defense attorney Joseph Tully, “anytime you have a financial incentive for law enforcement to take money, it’s going to create that incentive for them to do so, whether there is a crime or not.”

Tully commented on the legal implications, despite the fact that he is not involved in Woods’ case.

Civil asset forfeiture is the process by which a deputy seized Woods’ money. By depriving criminals of property that is used in or acquired through illegal activities, it aims to punish and discourage criminal activity. However, critics contend that it is frequently abused by prosecutors and police, and that anyone carrying a significant sum of cash is considered guilty.

Lawyers for the non-profit Institute for Justice, which is representing the Mississippi native, argue that despite the deputy’s claim that Woods’ cash was linked to drugs, he was never ticketed, cited, or arrested.

The preliminary beginnings Monday in Harris District – four years and one day after the seizure – in Territory of Texas v. Roughly $41,680.00.

The seized cash is subject to trial under civil asset forfeiture, and no criminal conviction is required. Tully stated that the government only needs to demonstrate that the property was associated with criminal activity.

He added, “I think it is fair to call this practice legal theft,” noting that the courts have the power to compel those convicted of crimes to pay restitution to their victims.

The state contends there was reasonable justification to hold onto the money and that the cash was either acquired from perpetrating a wrongdoing or expected to be utilized to carry out a wrongdoing, for example, drug managing or tax evasion.

In court documents, the deputy who stopped Woods wrote that he “was acting overly nervous and uncomfortable and displaying signs of stress such as labored breathing” during the stop. When asked about the amount of money he was carrying, he did not specify the exact amount and had the money stored in two bundles that had been duct taped together.

The deputy wrote at one point, “I was starting to believe that Woods was involved in criminal activity, especially money laundering,” and later added, “involved in the transport of money connected to drug trafficking.”

The representative said he left Woods with a case number and telephone number to call to attempt to guarantee the cash.

According to the Institute for Justice, Woods’ case is not unique, and officers in the most populous county in Texas frequently inquire about cash in vehicles. Any money that its agents seize is kept by the police department.

Tully stated, “In the Harris County case, it went directly to the sheriff’s department and district attorney’s budgets.” Therefore, both the prosecutors and the law enforcement personnel gain personally by taking this money.

No less than 113 common relinquishment petitions recorded by region examiners beginning around 2016 are “in view of a structure testimony a not present composed by an official at that point and spot of seizure,” the charitable law office wrote in a court documenting.

Tully stated, “Policing for profit is definitely a problem.” We are all aware that power inevitably leads to corruption, particularly absolute power.

Source – Foxnews