Since 1991, IJ has come to the aid of individuals who want to do the simple things every American has the right to do—including own property, start and grow a business, speak freely about commerce or politics, and provide their children with a good education—but can’t because they find the government in their way.
Cristal Starling runs a mobile food cart in Rochester, New York, to provide for herself and her grandnephew. She dreamed of expanding the business into a food truck, and she saved enough money to do just that. But in the fall of 2020, the local police raided her apartment and seized $8,040—the money she was going to use to pursue her dream. She was never charged with or suspected of a crime.
An armored car company sued after a California sheriff teamed up with federal law enforcement to take proceeds from legal cannabis businesses.
In Indiana, prosecutors profit off the civil forfeiture cases they prosecute, creating perverse incentives that strips Hoosiers of their basic due process rights. A federal class action lawsuit from IJ seeks to end for-profit prosecutions in Indiana.
Marine veteran Stephen Lara was left on the side of the highway in Nevada without any money, after police took his life savings without ever charging him with any wrongdoing. Stephen has teamed up with IJ to get his money back and make sure the DEA follows the rules moving forward.
Harris County, Texas, has an unconstitutional financial incentive for law enforcement to seize property and cash excessively without probable cause, often sweeping up innocent people in the process. Ameal Woods and Jordan Davis are two victims of this system who have joined forces with IJ to challenge this corrupt system.
DEA agents took Kermit Warren’s life savings from him when he was traveling to purchase a new truck for his tow truck business. They never charged Kermit with a crime. With IJ’s help, Kermit was able to challenge the forfeiture and get his money back.
The state of Indiana is attempting to make Terry Abbott win back his seized money in court without a lawyer. However, IJ has stepped in to defend Terry on appeal and is urging the court to deny the government’s request.
FBI agents broke into hundreds of private security deposit box without warrants. Holding government officials accountable for violating Fourth Amendment rights is crucial to ensure similar abuses don’t occur in the future.
Jerry Johnson owns a small trucking business. He traveled with cash to buy a new truck for his business when a detective approached him and took his money. He was left without his money or the truck he set out to buy. Now he’s partnering with IJ to fight for his money.
End Civil Forfeiture
The Institute for Justice aims to curtail, and ultimately, abolish civil forfeiture, one of the gravest abuses of power in the country today. IJ has filed more than two dozen cases challenging civil forfeiture nationwide. In 2019, IJ secured a landmark victory at the U.S. Supreme Court when it ruled unanimously in Timbs v. Indiana that the Eight Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause protects Americans against state and local forfeitures.