We have all heard stories about people being asked to pay their ticket right there in the trooper’s car, but it does not seem to have happened to anyone directly. Maybe that is because the highway patrol did not have card readers….until now. The Oklahoma Department of Public Safety has contracted with a business to allow troopers to transfer money from many types of pre-paid cards. Of course, this is not to pay your ticket, but is being done as part of seizing assets thought to be used in drug trafficking.
There’s only one small problem.
The people from whom the money is taken haven not been convicted of a crime, have not pled guilty to a crime, heck, they may not ever be charged with a crime. Still, the trooper on the side of the road using his “training and experience” determined these funds are for nefarious purposes, and so the money is taken. No judge, no jury, no attorney, no due process, just one person’s belief.
When a person’s assets are seized, the person has the obligation to prove their own assets were legitimate. The State does not have to prove the money bought or paid for drugs. The state does not have to do anything really other than file some paperwork formalities. Only after the State files the forfeiture paperwork, are they required to inform the person they intend to keep the money they already took. Then, the citizen has the obligation to come to court and prove why they should get their money back.
Now, we have corporations getting up front fees, and ongoing royalties on money “collected” by the State. Oklahoma citizens are accustomed to royalty payments. We like our oil, gas, wind, and other natural resource royalty payments coming in the mail. However, paying a royalty to an out-of-state corporation who sells widgets to help steal from citizens should be pretty offensive to us.
Certainly, seizing funds associated with drug trafficking may help stem the flow of drugs, although it doesn’t seem to have slowed anything down. However, the incentive to fund an agency is so strong it often takes priority of citizens’ rights.
If you’ve had money taken in Enid, Fairview, Woodward, or anywhere else in Northwest Oklahoma, remember we are Enid lawyers, with offices in Fairview, and Laverne, that can help.
Hold on to your wallets,
Your Enid, OK Lawyers.
(Look how sneaky we are! That’s us, Ewbank, Hennigh & McVay, PLLC)