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Police Seize Nearly $20 Thousand From Man During Traffic Stop, Court Rules They Get To Keep It Even Though No Crime Comitted Or Charged

Police Seize Nearly $20 Thousand From Man During Traffic Stop, Court Rules They Get To Keep It Even Though No Crime Comitted Or Charged

Nick Sibilla | Institute for Justice

The Arkansas Court of Appeals on Wednesday upheld the civil forfeiture of almost $20,000 taken from a man during a traffic stop, even though he was never charged with a crime and prosecutors had previously attempted to dismiss the case.

Back in July 2013, Guillermo Espinoza was travelling with his girlfriend to Texas, when they were pulled over by the Arkansas State Police. During the stop, a drug dog alerted to a computer bag. Inside, police found $19,894 in cash, which they promptly seized. No contraband was found during the stop.

Although prosecutors in Hot Spring County never charged Espinoza with a crime, they filed a complaint to forfeit his cash in civil court. Espinoza challengedthe forfeiture, arguing that “the stop, search and seizure by law enforcement officers was unreasonable, unlawful and unconstitutional” and violated the Fourth Amendment. He also submitted paychecks and tax filings to show that his seized cash was “lawful earnings,” and not drug money. “The state should not be permitted to profit from its own wrongdoing,” he added.

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