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Discussion in 'Off-topic' started by Gunstar1, Aug 21, 2006.
The link has another link to the actual case. The moral of the story is: Don't answer questions from a police officer.
Bigsby then asked, through Trooper Brownell, if he could â€œask a few more questions,â€ and Gonzolez answered yes. Again through Trooper Brownell, Bigsby asked if Gonzolez had ever been arrested for driving while intoxicated, and Gonzolez answered that he had. Bigsby and Brownell also inquired whether any alcohol, guns, marijuana, methamphetamine, heroin, or large amounts of cash were in the car, and Gonzolez answered no. Brownell then asked for, and received, consent to search the car.
Need to read any more about the case?
In addition, the unidentified friend alerted Gonzolez that it was
â€œbadâ€ to carry more than $10,000 in cash on your person. Newly fearful of carrying his cash back to California by plane, Gonzolez testified that he decided to rent a car rather than fly . . .
Well, I guess the friend was right.
Since the enactment of the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000, the
burden is on the government to establish, by a preponderance of the evidence, that seized property is subject to forfeiture. 18 U.S.C. Â§ 983(c)(1). Forfeiture is warranted under 21 U.S.C. Â§ 881 when the government establishes a â€œâ€˜substantial connectionâ€™ between the propertyâ€ and a controlled substance offense. 18 U.S.C. Â§ 983(c)(3).
. . .
[The District Court rueld against the government]. On de novo review, we respectfully disagree and reach a different conclusion. We believe that the evidence as a whole demonstrates by a preponderance of the evidence that there was a substantial connection between the currency and a drug trafficking offense. Possession of a large sum of cash is â€œstrong evidenceâ€ of a connection to drug activity, $84,615 in U.S. Currency, 379 F.3d at 501-02, and Gonzolez was carrying the very large sum of $124,700.
There is more, but not a whole lot more. Read it. You better not buy a car by flying in one way with cash . . .
The court relies a great deal on the answers he gave the officers. I don't give officers answers.
The court merely substituted its own judgment for that of the district court, and essentially overruled the district court's findings of fact (saying "plausible" is not the same as "credible"). In the 8th Circuit, the government now can seize your money with no admissible evidence (just the "testimony" of a drug dog).
Testimony that I think is "slight" evidence under the relevant precedent for a statute that requires a preponderance of the evidence showing substantial connection to drug activity.
AND - it looks like he flew to Chicago and was driving back to California when stopped in Nebraska. Did he forget to pick up the drugs, or did he fly the drugs to Chicago and was coming back to California with the money?
One of the Supremes in an opinion this last term (I forget which one), discussing 4th A issues, said that most people consented to searches, "however improvidently." No kidding.
If the LEO needs to ask your permission to search, the answer is NO. Typical drug dealer: "Duh, da man just asked me to look in the trunk. Maybe he won't find those 15 kilos of coke. I like chattin' with da man. I'll go with YES." Why not try NO? What've you go to lose? For the fellow in this case, who probably did nothing wrong, $124K seems to be the answer.
Very slight evidence indeed. Can you imagine how the cross examination of the government witness (the police officer?) went at the hearing? The officer would not be able to identify the drug involved or the drug activity engaged in.
Or, can you imagine if this were a civil case between two non-governmental parties, and the plaintiff had to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant's money was substantially connected to drug activities? The case would be thrown out as frivolous if the plaintiff had nothing more than this.