Please, please read this article. Do more than that, actually. Read and blog about this article. It is tremendously messed up that police can seize money on the barest of evidence (or no evidence), and then that money is nearly impossible to get back because of ex parte hearings. Just a note: this happens in Tennessee, but may be present in other states as well.
Among my many questions and observations are the following:
Why are there ex parte hearings in the United States at all? And in particular when the case concerns depriving a citizen of property? I’m pretty sure this is a violation of due process, and the Wikipedia article appears to agree with me. In other words, these ex parte hearings, where only one side (the officer) is allowed to speak and the owner of the money isn’t even notified, about seizure of money violate the United States Constitution.
Why is it so easy for police to seize money? And why does a police officer think that the oddity of such a large amount of cash is enough cause to seize the money?
Why do police stations/precincts/whatever get to keep the money after a hearing? That seems like an incredibly huge conflict of interest. I would propose the money, once seized (you know, in legitimate cases), should remain indefinitely in evidence, be returned to the treasury, or be funneled into government social service programs.
Do police realize the amount of mistrust they sow by doing stuff like this? Without permission that police officer wouldn’t have been able to search the vehicle. If you want citizens to be willing to let you search their vehicles, violating their due process rights and their trust by taking their money for no real reason isn’t going to help. Seriously, don’t say “yes,” if an officer asks to search your car, even if you have nothing to hide.*
Similarly damaging is filing your police report without all the details. Or erasing your police car cameras because you don’t want that guy you arrested to be able to prove you beat the shit out of him for no reason while he was already handcuffed (that’s a different, but also extremely messed up story).
*Or, if you’re 16 and out past curfew, even if you have a friend very very very talented at covering up the toilet paper you just t.p.ed a house with.