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Asset forfeiture is seen as a way to generate revenue

According to a study released by the Institute for Justice, asset forfeiture programs had a negligible impact on crime rates. Specifically, the study found that more money didn't result in additional cases solved or a decrease in drug use. Another key takeaway was that property was more likely to be seized during times of budgetary pressure at the local level. When unemployment rates went up, residents of Texas or other states were more likely to have assets seized by authorities.

The study's author says that the statistics indicate that asset forfeiture is more about generating revenue than keeping communities safe. It is important to note that an individual doesn't have to be charged with a crime to have his or her assets taken. There simply needs to be a belief that the asset was somehow used for illegal purposes or connected to a crime.

Civil rights activists and others have asked for changes to asset forfeiture rules to include more protections for citizens. However, local authorities and others have resisted such changes. They believe that it will make it harder to take down drug criminals. However, a survey of 560 such cases in Texas found that major criminals are rarely the target of asset forfeiture efforts. It found that 20% of those who had assets taken from them were not charged with a crime.

Individuals who are charged with a crime may benefit from the assistance of a criminal defense lawyer as their cases go through the legal process. The same may be true of those who had assets seized despite never being charged with a crime. An attorney might be able to convince a judge that there was no basis for taking the assets or take other steps in an effort to have them returned.

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