South Carolina judge says forfeiture law unconstitutional

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CONWAY, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina judge has declared the state’s forfeiture law that allows money or other items to be taken without a conviction violates the state and federal constitutions.

News outlets report the decision by Horry County Judge Steven H. John could set the table for a state appellate court to determine whether South Carolina needs to rewrite its civil asset forfeiture law.

The state allows police to seize cash, cars and other possessions from people suspected of drug dealing, regardless of whether they’ve been convicted of a crime or charged with one.

An investigation by The Greenville News found law enforcement seized $17 million across South Carolina from 2014 to 2016. Nearly 20% of more than 4,000 people who saw money or items seized were never charged with a crime.

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