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More than $455,000 Seized from Medical Cannabis Patient Slapped with Civil Asset Forfeiture



In March 2013, Steve Oates’ home in Goodyear, Ariz. was stormed by police, SWAT, and DEA brokers due to the fact of a marijuana mature room in the visitor home.

“It was like one thing you see in the videos. It was 6:30 in the early morning, and essentially you hear ‘bang! bang! bang!’ on the doorway, and subsequent detail you know you listen to the crash of a battering ram,” says Oates.

Oates’ physician experienced advised medicinal marijuana for Oates’ long-term back again soreness, so he attained a clinical cannabis card with cultivation legal rights. Dispensaries were being still few and far involving at the time, and Oates failed to have faith in Craigslist for his medicine.MMJ Card

“I felt like the up coming alternative was to increase it ourselves,” says Oates. Oates fulfilled a few other individuals who shared problems about underground marijuana channels, and they made a decision to commence rising collectively. Oates experienced their overall offer for the duration of the raid, which ended up being much more than the permitted sum that he could increase with cultivation rights. He pled responsible to possessing beneath two lbs of cannabis.

But the conviction finished up currently being the smallest value that Oates experienced to fork out. Goodyear Law enforcement Division brought Oates’ scenario to the Lawyer Normal, who therefore slapped Oates with above $455,000 in civil asset forfeiture. Civil asset forfeiture is when the authorities can seize residence and funds that they suspect have a link to illicit activity. However, they sue the property as a substitute of the man or woman, so there would not have to be a connected conviction.

“That’s what they are saying, is that the industry benefit of the product sales that he allegedly produced was $455,000,” claims Oates’ legal professional John Moore. “They do not have any proof or any proof that the house that they are trying to forfeit is relevant to the criminal offense of his possession of cannabis for sale.”

Oates claims that between property taken, bank accounts seized, and legal charges, he has actually shed in excess of $600,000, but that he would “alternatively invest each dollar on an legal professional than just let [law enforcement] have it.”

Moore is aiding Oates combat to get his belongings again, nonetheless suggests it is really much easier said than done.

“In a standard civil case, it is really the plaintiff that has the load of evidence. But in a civil forfeiture situation, it turns­­ out it is really in fact the defendant that has to exhibit the place this revenue arrived from,” claims Moore. “We have to exhibit by preponderance of the evidence, that this revenue that they are seeking to forfeit came from legal signifies.

Moore provides that Arizona has a immediate incentive to make the most of asset forfeiture since compared with other states, Arizona regulation enforcement gets to hold seized money for their possess departments.

“Their aim is on boosting revenues in its place of genuine regulation enforcement alone,” states Moore. “Alternatively of likely immediately after serious drug sellers who are transporting throughout point out lines or prison gangs that are generating terrific criminal offense and personal personal injury to men and women, they are heading right after an person since they know he experienced resources in his lender account.”

About 5:45 minutes.

Composed and produced by Tracy Oppenheimer, who also narrates. Camera by Zach Weissmueller. Showcasing “Vibe Travel” by Podington Bear.

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