A bill that will “Restore the integrity of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, and for other purposes….”, also known as the ‘‘Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration Act of 2014’’ or the ‘‘FAIR Act’’ was first introduced by Senator Rand Paul in 2014, and was just reintroduced this past Wednesday, March 15th, 2017. The Fair Act specifically speaking, protects a citizens’ rights to limit civil asset forfeiture when the citizen in question has not been convicted of any crime. Even if they may be suspected of being involved in a crime.
An important part of the bill is that it includes a requirement which helps protect the principle of ‘Innocent Until Proven Guilty’ within the fifth amendment. This is done by requiring that clear evidence is submitted by the law enforcement before the belongings of the defendant are taken away. The current law states that it only requires a preponderance of evidence. What that means is if over 50% of the evidence is pointing towards the crime in question, then it is enough to take the property that was thought to be used in the specific crime.
“When it comes to evidence, there also has to be proof that the owner ‘‘(A) had a substantial connection 16 between the property and the offense; and 17 ‘‘(B) the owner of any interest in the 18 seized property— 19 ‘‘(i) intentionally used the property in 20 connection with the offense; or 21 ‘‘(ii) knowingly consented or was willfully blind to the use of the property by 23 another in connection with the offense.’’; 24 and 3 MAS14135 S.L.C. 1 (2) in subsection (d)(2)(A), by striking ‘‘an 2 owner who’’ and all that follows through ‘‘upon 3 learning’’ and inserting ‘‘an owner who upon learning’’.
The end result is this holds law enforcement to higher standards by removing the profit incentive within the criminal justice system. Which would require that the assets are sent to the Treasury’s’ general fund rather than going into the Attorney General’s Asset forfeiture account. The federal government currently goes through the process of equitable sharing, which means that the local law enforcement agency makes the case a federal one in order to have access to federal policy instead of state policy. Federal law with asset forfeiture is less strict, which guarantees more of the asset going back to the local department.
Overall, this bill may help our justice system get back to a more constitutional function. The purpose of which is to ensure that our right to due process and the right of the people to not be deprived of their life, liberty or property. The Fair Act also protects our fourth amendment right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures. By forcing the government to provide concrete evidence before taking the property of a defendant. It seems that we have lost those principles, and Senator Paul is relentless on pushing this Bill and not giving in.
Do you think that this bill should be reintroduced to congress? Comment below!