Victory! Supreme Court Rules States Cannot Steal Money From The Innocent

By Jack Burns

Colorado, like most states, forces convicted criminals to pay court costs, fees, and restitution after they’ve been found guilty. But the question arises, “What happens when someone who’s been found guilty, has paid their dues, and then has their convictions overturned on appeal? Do they get their money back?” Not in many states, like Colorado. But all of that has changed after a landmark ruling from the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS).

The state not stealing money from innocent people sounds like common sense, right? Well, unfortunately, in the land of the free, it was necessary for SCOTUS to step in and tell the greedy state that they do not have a right to steal people’s money.

According to Forbes,

defendants, Shannon Nelson and Louis Madden, were convicted for sexual offenses and ordered to pay thousands of dollars in court costs, fees and restitution. Between her conviction and later acquittal, the state withheld $702 from Nelson’s inmate account, while Madden paid Colorado $1,977 after his conviction. When their convictions were overturned, Nelson and Madden demanded their money back.

Colorado refused, even after the plaintiffs won in a state-level appellate court. The state, instead, insisted that if they wanted their money back, they’d have to file a claim under the Exoneration Act, forcing the defendants to once again prove their innocence to retrieve their funds. The plaintiffs appealed all the way to the Supreme Court, who sided with the citizens in a 7-1 ruling, declaring Colorado’s law unconstitutional.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the majority opinion for the court declaring “the Exoneration Act’s scheme does not comport with the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of due process.”

Ginsburg wrote that Nelson and Madden are “entitled to be presumed innocent” and “should not be saddled with any proof burden” to reclaim what is already theirs. In other words, they shouldn’t have to demonstrate they’re not criminals after the court has already made such a determination. According to Forbes:

Ginsburg forcefully rejected Colorado’s argument that “[t]he presumption of innocence applies only at criminal trials,” and not to civil claims, as under the Exoneration Act:  “Colorado may not presume a person, adjudged guilty of no crime, nonetheless guilty enough for monetary exactions.”

The decision, on its surface, may not seem like much but holds promise for putting an end to the much criticized practice of local law enforcement agencies around the country who engage in civil asset forfeiture.

The Free Thought Project has worked diligently to highlight such fiscally abusive practices taking place all around the country. Take for instance rapper Blac Youngsta’s recent run-in with the law back in January.

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He was detained by Atlanta police withdrawing $200,000 cash from his bank account. He’d planned to take the money and buy his favorite sports car but police were notified and Youngsta was detained as being a possible bank robbery suspect.

Youngsta and his entourage were apprehended while police pointed their weapons at them. The so-called authorities then put everyone in handcuffs, confiscated their personal weapons, and took half of the rapper’s $200,000 withdrawal saying he could get it back after it was processed as evidence at police headquarters.

In essence, the police seized his money and forced the rapper to reclaim his own funds after proving he was entitled to it. They robbed him. The police shakedown made international news and smacked in the face of common sense, as many were left scratching their heads and asking how police could get away with doing what common street thugs often do, take other people’s money.

Matt Agorist with TFTP reported, from 1998 to 2010, more than 12 billion dollars was raked in from law enforcement at all levels of government. This translated into the government taking away 600 million more dollars than all the robberies and thefts during that same period, making authorities seem more crooked than the individuals they’re trying to arrest.

And the practice isn’t limited to local law enforcement either. As we previously reported, the “DEA seized more than $4 billion in cash from people since 2007, but $3.2 billion of the seizures were never connected to any criminal charges. That figure does not even include the seizure of cars and electronics.”

The Inspector General of the Justice Department concluded their practices constituted a threat to everyone’s civil liberties, and now, apparently, the SCOTUS agrees. Everyone is entitled to due process under the law and are likewise entitled to keeping their assets once they’re found not guilty in criminal court. It’s a good day to be an American. Maybe now law enforcement at all levels will stop such controversial practices.

Jack Burns is an educator, journalist, investigative reporter, and advocate of natural medicine. This article first appeared here at

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23 Comments on "Victory! Supreme Court Rules States Cannot Steal Money From The Innocent"

  1. Great! However – If they “confiscated” $2000 cash from you and it is going to cost you $4000 to recover it, is it worth it? Or is the cost of recovering what is rightfully yours also included in the ruling? Even if it was $200K, if it cost $100K for an attorney, court costs, travel, room, meals, etc – you are still loosing a lot due to being innocent in a corrupt state!

    • Exactly. Why should you have to be proven innocent before you can reclaim your assets. I thought we were already innocent until proven guilty therefore no assets should be taken until guilty.

  2. Sam Oconnel | May 5, 2017 at 7:34 am | Reply

    The “government” is organized crime. How hard is that for people to understand?

  3. The voluminous inherent problems of today’s Constitution’s juridical system (including tax-paid for prisons) would be unheard of under a biblical government and its six judicial safeguards.

    See online Chapter 14 “Amendment 5: Constitutional vs. Biblical Judicial Protection” of “Bible Law vs. the United States Constitution: The Christian Perspective.” Click on my name, then our website. Go to our Online Books page, click on the top entry, and scroll down to Chapter 14.

    Then find out how much you really know about the Constitution as compared to the Bible. Take our 10-question Constitution Survey in the right-hand sidebar and receive a complimentary copy of a book that examines the Constitution by the Bible.

    • Overseasobserver | May 5, 2017 at 5:33 pm | Reply

      The bible does not and should not ever have any influence whatsoever in any US court or legal jurisdiction!!
      The U.S. constitution is and should remain a secular document!!!

      • “…Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in
        America, 1835: ‘They [the 17th-century Colonials] exercised the rights of
        sovereignty; they named their magistrates, concluded peace or declared war,
        made police regulations, and enacted laws as if their allegiance was due only
        to God. Nothing can be more curious and, at the same time more instructive,
        than the legislation of that period; it is there that the solution of the great
        social problem which the United States now presents to the world is to be found
        [in perfect fulfillment of Deuteronomy 4:5-8, demonstrating the continuing
        veracity of Yahweh’s law and its accompanying blessings, per Deuteronomy

        ‘Amongst these documents we shall notice, as especially characteristic, the
        code of laws promulgated by the little State of Connecticut in 1650. The
        legislators of Connecticut begin with the penal laws, and … they borrow their provisions from
        the text of Holy Writ … copied verbatim from the books of Exodus, Leviticus,
        and Deuteronomy.…’23

        “America was exalted in the eyes of the world because of her applied
        righteousness, embodied in Yahweh’s perfect law. Since 1788, when the United
        States of America, as a nation, stopped following Yahweh’s laws and began following
        the laws of WE THE PEOPLE, our legislation has ceased providing righteous
        instruction to others. Instead, the rest of the world now holds America in
        disdain. If America hopes to regain her favored status in the eyes of the
        world, she must return to her original Constitution….”

        For more, see online Chapter 3 “The Preamble: WE THE PEOPLE vs.
        YAHWEH” of “Bible Law vs. the United States Constitution: The
        Christian Perspective.” Click on my name, then our website. Go to our Online Books page, click on the top entry, and scroll down to Chapter 3.

      • David Hodges | May 6, 2017 at 6:44 am | Reply

        What is your favorite thing about living under a curse? “Blessed is the nation whose God is Yahweh.”

  4. Greg Straw | May 5, 2017 at 7:48 am | Reply

    Tells you who the real criminals were and still are.

  5. Useless Eater | May 5, 2017 at 7:59 am | Reply

    Victory? Love the sarcastic headline. It takes a “Supreme” court to tell us that?

  6. The return of unlawfully confiscated property/funds should also include a mandated interest payment at the highest level allowed within that State. Also, ANY law enforcement entity who is found to unlawfully scheme to conduct asset seizure/forfeiture should be prosecuted as a felony crime and the organization should pay a mandatory fine equal to the seizure amount, plus any court costs and attorney fees.

  7. how does one go go about getting there money back from a state ….indiana is the state about which i speak….any one have any iadeals…

  8. chrism12743 | May 5, 2017 at 10:24 am | Reply

    Civil forfeiture is the biggest single fraud perpetrated on Americans. It is cruel and unjust and usually applied to those poor slobs who like cash.

  9. William Zabel | May 5, 2017 at 11:13 am | Reply

    The cops won’t stop though, we all k now that. They’ll just find another law that allows for the same practice. Their doing this because their pensions are gone. This has been admitted more than once by people inside law enforcement.

  10. So the commies in CO got a legal SMACK DOWN? Good! Now refuse services to these jackass government employees when ever they walk into a business!

  11. Alleged Comment | May 5, 2017 at 5:32 pm | Reply

    Well, that seems logical. If they have been doing this all along then the courts have been wrong the first time seldom gives me confidence they will be right anytime after.

  12. Gregory Alan of Johnson | May 5, 2017 at 5:34 pm | Reply

    The legal situation of “civil” forfeiture must end, regardless if the municipal corporation agents concur or not.
    Under the Torah, stuff like this can’t happen. Once robbery is proven, regardless of the thief, it’s either restitution or stoning. No jail and no prisons.

  13. Badger Badgerism | May 6, 2017 at 5:11 am | Reply

    Yeah Texas you greedy pigs you are scum

  14. The above is theft. Thieves get shot as they should. Once Americans team up against this theft by government thugs or go on offence against the guilty government thugs it’ll stop. NICE GUYS FINISH LAST!!!

  15. And the IRS??? Do they not do this same thing. Confiscate with out due process.
    And they will continue.

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