In America, people are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. Yet a crazy loophole in US law has allowed the police to take billions of dollars worth of property from ordinary Americans without even charging them with a crime.
John Oliver explains how this scheme, known as civil asset forfeiture, works:
The cops are able to take peoples' stuff based on the legal fiction that the stuff, not the owner, is being charged with a crime. And because property doesn't have the same constitutional rights people do, the police don't have to meet the high burden of proof they face when charging people with crimes. In many cases, the police take someone's property and then never charge the owner with any wrongdoing at all.
Because the law often allows the police to keep the profits, police officers have a strong financial incentive to take peoples' property. Police have used civil asset forfeiture to seize cash, cars, and even homes.