Even though mistakes are made, the idea of who has the burden of proof is critical to a free society. When the burden of proof lies with the government, the citizen does not have to present a defense. The government must convince a jury that the citizen did commit the crime. If the government cannot do this, the citizen is allowed to go free. When the burden of proof lies with the citizen, the government can bring any charge they want against a citizen and it is the responsibility to prove their innocence. When the burden of proof lies with the citizen, the body deciding his guilt or innocence is appointed or chosen by the government.
More and more over the years, burden of proof is now the responsibility of the citizen and not the government. If the IRS challenges a citizen on the information provided on a tax return, it is not the government who has to prove their assertion, but the citizen is assumed guilty until he proves otherwise. The EPA and the BLM has also assumed this position in many different situations. The average citizen is unable to take his case to a jury of his peers in way to many situations because of the cost.
The basic tenet that one is presumed innocent until proven guilty has now become a part of the criminal justice system as well. Over the past several decades, many thousands of people across the country have had their property seized by the government without being charged with a crime. Regardless of these individuals’ innocence, their cash, homes, cars, and personal property can be taken if law enforcement believes it was involved in a crime or if it is the proceeds of a crime.
This practice, known as civil asset forfeiture, was established as a tool to dismantle criminal organizations. But over the past 30 years, the use—and in many cases abuse—of this practice has spiraled well beyond the purposes for which it was created. In recent years, civil asset forfeiture has come to create perverse incentives that can lead law enforcement agencies to seek profit over justice.
For many years, one of the primary drivers of these perverse incentives has been a federal practice called equitable sharing. Under this practice, state and local law enforcement can have a seizure adopted by the federal government—that is to say, placed under federal jurisdiction—and be allowed to keep up to 80 percent of the proceeds from the adopted seizures, with the remaining 20 percent going to federal agencies. Some $3 billion in seizures were distributed through equitable sharing between 2008 and 2014.
Today, congressional lawmakers continue to work to pass federal legislation to achieve reform. Without additional reform, innocent people across the United States will continue to face seizure of their cash, vehicles, and even homes—many without ever having their day in court.
Without reform and a re-establishment of the concept of innocent until proven guilty being applied in all situations, our freedoms will continue to vanish and the United States will continue to be transformed step by step to the totalitarian Marxist state we have been edging towards for many years. Obama promised us that he would fundamentally transform us into that state, and that burden of proof lies with the citizen is essential for that transformation.