Denver Cashes in by Seizing Cars for Low-Level Crimes, Even Without Convictions

Denver cab driver Semere Fremichael got caught up in an undercover prostitution sting. He was innocent—he thought she wanted a ride, not sex for pay—and was acquitted by a judge.
His taxi, however, got taken for a rough ride. Denver’s Fox affiliate has an excellent two-part investigation showing how the city attorney’s office is using civil asset forfeiture to cash in by snatching vehicles like Fremichael’s for even low-level crimes, and even when their owners aren’t convicted.
In 2016, Denver made more than $2.4 million, seizing more than 1,800 vehicles enforcing the civil forfeiture component of its public nuisance abatement laws. Civil forfeiture is a controversial procedure that allows cities (and states and the federal government) to seize and keep somebody’s assets and property without actually convicting them of a crime.
Denver put the screws to Fremichael, according to Fox reporter Rob Low, offering him a civil version of a plea deal: He

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