It has been said that crime does not pay. It is especially true in Utah. Consider these facts. Last year, police throughout the state seized more than $1.4 million in assets. An additional $1.2 million of assets have been seized by federal law enforcement officers. But according to a state report, prosecutors did not file any charges in 7 percent of those civil asset seizures. To make things even more interesting, slightly more than 10 percent of criminal cases involving seized assets were dismissed by Utah courts.
Asset Seizures and Drug Crimes
Asset seizures by law enforcement has been particularly effective in drug crimes. Over the years, police in Northern Utah have relied on confiscating cash and other assets during drug-related arrests. But there is now increased pressure by the state legislature to provide greater transparency when it comes to seizing assets in forfeiture cases. There are two sides to the issue. Layton police lieutenant Shawn Horton told the Standard Examiner he is a big proponent of asset seizures.
“It is a very valuable tool,” Horton said. “I’m confused why a citizen would want us not to take money that criminals are making from the illegal sale of narcotics.”
In many cases, seizing assets contribute heavily towards breaking up organized drug rings. Much of this money is used to fund federal grants designed to increase local police budgets and target areas with a high concentration of drug trafficking. Once assets are seized, they are then turned over to the state which funds grants for qualifying police agencies and departments.
Innocent Until Proven Guilty
Critics of the Utah’s asset seizure policy cite the amount of cases that are not prosecuted. Those who are arrested for drug crimes are often treated guilty before given the opportunity to prove their innocence. But Horton counters that those who have their assets taken can challenge the seizures in a court of law. For a seizure to take place, police must conduct a thorough investigation. Once the investigation is completed and there is sufficient evidence, police departments can then issue search warrants. However, opponents of seizures believe suspects should have to go to court to retrieve what belongs to them–especially when a drug crime charges are not filed or completely dismissed. For now, the law enforcement community is continuing to lobby state legislators to continue protecting the current system.
Have You Been Charged With a Drug Crime in Salt Lake City? The Criminal Defense Attorneys at White & Matern Can Help
The State of Utah has some of the harshest penalties against those charged with drug crimes. Just one charge can only hurt your reputation, it can also result in serious time behind bars. It is important to fight these charges quickly and aggressively. The Salt Lake City Drug Crimes Attorneys at White & Matern are committed to protecting the rights of each client and looking after their best interests. Over the years, their legal team has successfully represented many men and women who have been falsely charged. They utilize an aggressive and comprehensive approach to place each client in the best position to succeed. To learn more, contact their Salt Lake City criminal law office today and schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case.