Moreover, the MPD makes liberal use of a federal loophole known as “equitable sharing.” Under this program, local and state law enforcement can collaborate with federal agencies to forfeit property under federal law, thereby bypassing local and state civil forfeiture laws. Local law enforcement can then take a cut of the proceeds from forfeited property. From 2010 to 2012, the Asset Forfeiture Unit of the MPD processed $9.2 million worth of property seized by both joint task forces and the MPD. The MPD kept $2 million in equitable sharing proceeds.
Meanwhile, property owners have to contend with legal proceedings that can be downright baffling, like having to pay for their right to challenge a seizure in court. This “penal sum” is 10 percent of what the property is worth (as determined by the MPD) and can range anywhere from $250 to $2,500. If owners do not pay, the government automatically wins and keeps the property.
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