WATCH | If you didn't commit a crime, you shouldn't get punished, right? That's not the case for Tina Bennis. After her husband was caught having sex with a prostitute in their car, Detroit police seized it and declared the vehicle a public nuisance.
Wife has her car seized but she didn't do anything wrong
Even though Mrs. Bennis was a co-owner of the car and was unaware of her husband's actions, the Supreme Court in 1996 ruled that she did not have a right to an innocent owner defense. Detroit police did not have to charge Tina Bennis with a crime to take her half of the car, because it was used to commit a criminal act.
A procedure called civil asset forfeiture allows police to take cash, cars and even homes if they suspect they are connected to an illicit trade.
Bennis v. Michigan
Police Chief William Brooks of Norwood, Massachusetts, says civil asset forfeiture is an important tool because it takes the profit out of crime.
Audio transcripts from Bennis v. Michigan explain that forfeiture of an innocent owner's property prevents collusion between a wrongdoer and an alleged innocent owner.
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WATCH | To learn more about civil asset forfeiture, check out Circa's documentary, "SEIZED."