Civil asset forfeitures violate SC and US constitutions, Horry County judge rules

In a stunning and strongly worded ruling, an Horry County judge declared South Carolina’s civil asset forfeiture laws violate both the state and federal constitutions.

The decision sets the stage for court challenges and potentially a rewriting of state laws that allow 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 even charged with one.

South Carolina law enforcement agencies collect millions of dollars yearly from asset seizures, The Post and Courier reported in a 2017 series of articles on the issue. Advocates say the practice takes some of the profit out of drug crime and uses the proceeds of such activities to finance enforcement efforts, but many abuses have been reported.