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Attorney: Philadelphia is 'Ground Zero' For Civil Asset Forfeiture

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Darpana Sheth, senior attorney for the Institute for Justice, spoke with Rich Zeoli on Talk Radio 1210 WPHT to voice her opposition to civil asset forfeiture.

Sheth believes the practice of the government taking property from anyone suspected of taking part in a crime is illegal.

"Civil forfeiture is one of the greatest threats to property rights and due process in our country today," Sheth said. "That's because it allows law enforcement to seize and keep property without every convicting, much less even charging, the owner with a crime."

She stated that it violates everything our country was founded on.

"It is very un-American at its core and it's because it's based on this legal fiction that property itself is guilty and it doesn't matter whether you, as the property owner, are guilty or innocent," Sheth said. That's the Institute for Justice has been fighting civil forfeiture laws. Because they are un-American and they are un-constitutional. No one in America should lose their property without being convicted of a crime."

Sheth charged that city of Philadelphia is the worst abuser of this practice in the entire nation.

"It is definitely ground zero for forfeiture abuse in our country. If the government wants to take your property, it should prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you were guilty of the crime," Sheth said.

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