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Does the 14th Amendment Apply to Forfeiture in California?

The 14th Amendment & Forfeiture in California

In the state of California, many arrests for drugs are subject to forfeiture laws. This means that the government can seize most property without compensating the owner for their property. When it comes to drug arrests, especially an arrest for a controlled drug substance, the government can seize land, houses, boats, cars, money, etc., through California Forfeiture Laws. This law was clarified by the U.S. Supreme Court in a recent ruling.

What Is the 14th Amendment?

The 14th Amendment was ratified in 1868 and applies to all Federal Law and U.S. Supreme Court Rulings in all 50 States. Simply put, all 50 US states must comply with these ruling as it pertains to the Bill of Rights. The only issue is where States Rights given under the U.S. Constitution applies and whether there is an exception. However, the right to due process of law and equal protection of the law is now applied to both the Federal and state governments and especially to the police.

The original purpose of the 14th Amendment was to protect the rights of native-born Black Americans whose rights as recently-freed slaves were being denied. The 14th Amendment extended liberties and rights granted by the Bill of Rights to former slaves. Currently, it applies to all federal and state agencies.

According to the 14th Amendment:

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws…..”

Case Example

One example of this occurred in a recent case where the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the 8th Amendment applies to all states and the federal government agencies. The 8th Amendment states that “excessive bail shall not be required nor excessive fines imposed nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”

In the forfeiture case of TIMBS v. INDIANA, police sought to sell the defendant’s Land Rover that was purchased with money he received from his father’s estate when his father passed away. In a 9-0 vote, the court held that under the 14th Amendment as applied to the 8th Amendment, the sale of his vehicle was excessive.

As stated above, excessive bail shall not be required nor excessive fines imposed nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted. Taken together, the 8th amendment stands for the proposition that there are limitations entrusted to those in charge of government intrusions, such as when it comes to taking property from a U.S. citizen.

Justice Neil McGill Gorsuch summed it up well when he stated, “There can be no serious doubt that the Fourteenth Amendment requires the States to respect the freedom from excessive fines enshrined in the Eighth Amendment.”

Have you been arrested or had your vehicle, cash, or other property seized through forfeiture proceedings? If so, you should contact our law firm to discuss your case and get the legal advice you need to secure a fair case result.