History, current developments surrounding asset forfeiture in Texas

The securing of citizens’ legally secured property rights has been a cornerstone of American history since the country’s inception. References to property and its safeguarding are liberally cited in the U.S. Constitution, and countless court cases have centered on property protections.

What is often centrally relevant in property cases is a balancing line between the rights of individual property owners and government authorities. This key question often attaches to that: Where should that line be drawn?

We referenced the topic of property forfeiture in our immediately preceding blog post, stressing in our January 7 entry its “controversial reach.” A growing and diverse band of critics in Texas and nationally believe that law enforcers sometimes go too far in their efforts to seize property they allege is tied to criminal activity.

We spotlight that concern on a page of our website addressing civil and asset forfeiture at the established Houston criminal defense firm of Hilder & Associates. We note therein that the government sometimes “overreaches what it believes is tainted property.”

When that occurs, truly shocking stories can emerge detailing an unfair and unlawful taking of private possessions. An in-depth look at some relevant stories comes courtesy of one recent Texas article. That piece stresses that Texas police agencies and prosecutors last year “grew their coffers more than $50 million by seizing cash, cars, jewelry, clothing, art and other property they claim was linked to a crime.” The burden of proof that the government is wrong in any case rests upon the burdened property owner.

Hilder & Associates attorneys defend diverse and valued clients in both criminal and civil forfeiture cases. There is age-old American legal precedent sanctioning property forfeiture, but only in cases where government authorities can establish a telling connection between criminal conduct and an individual’s personal assets.