When many people think of forfeiture of property to the police or the authorities, they imagine large mansions on Biscayne Bay in Miami being auctioned after Miami Vice has arrested a drug lord.
However, local attorneys say that police in Melbourne, Florida and law enforcement in Palm Bay have been systematically seizing property on a much smaller scale to help fund their operations. Florida Today reported on the forfeiture in this article
One local attorney said that a Palm Bay woman’s car was seized after her son was arrested in Palm Bay, Florida for driving on a suspended license for the second time in her car. At the time of his arrest, the car was seized by the Palm Bay Police Department, and she received a letter from Palm Bay PD saying she would not get it back unless she filed an appeal of the seizure. Her car was unavailable for approximately a month and she struggled to pay bond to get her son out of Brevard County Jail and to hire an attorney to defend him and to appeal the seizure of her car.
Fortunately, the Palm Bay woman was able to get her vehicle back, and it was not auctioned.
All of this stemmed from some unpaid tickets that her unemployed son had been unable to pay.
Some people in Melbourne, Viera, Rockledge, Palm Bay and other Brevard communities view this phenomena as a symptom of an overgrown law enforcement complex that is oriented against the little guy while ignoring the financial crimes that have lead to so many problems across Florida and nationally. Essentially, it is easier for police agencies to drive around running people’s tags, writing traffic tickets, and running k-9 units around people’s cars then to track what is happening at banks, insurance companies, Wall Street, and so on.
Others think the level of law enforcement is appropriate at the local level, but recognize that there has simply not been any enforcement within the halls of power.
What do you think?