Proposed Mass. Law: Two Years in Prison for Having Secret Car Compartment

No drugs were found, but he was charged anyway with a violation of the hidden compartment law. He’s still facing a jury trial in December of this year.

Critics of the law’s basic concept contend it violates due process and infringes on property rights.

Part of the story behind the story is that Massachusetts has one of the worst civil asset forfeiture laws in the nation, according to the property-rights-defending experts at the Institute for Justice. Police in the Commonwealth rake in millions of dollars each year from civil forfeitures.

Law enforcement officials need only reach the threshold of probable cause (the same threshold used to justify a search warrant) that somebody's property or money is connected to a crime in order to seize it. The state doesn't have to prove a citizen's guilt to keep the property; the citizen must prove his innocence to get it back.”

So, there is an obvious conflict of interest in that police get to keep 100% of the value of what is seized, which provides an enormous financial incentive to pull over anyone with the slightest suspicion of potential wrongdoing.

The proposed legislation, H 1266, presents a real challenge for those defending attacks on civil liberties and the Fourth Amendment.

The bill remains in the House Committee on Bills for a third reading. With only five sponsors out of 160 members in the House of Representatives, it remains to be seen if the bill will move forward.

Nonetheless, the “Big Brother” aspects of the bill and its assault on basic constitutional principles should disturb not just Massachusetts residents, but lovers of liberty everywhere.

Imagine picking up a legitimate prescription for a painkiller and then storing it in the hidden compartment to safeguard it while you run other errands or shop. Under this proposed law, you could wind up in prison and lose your vehicle if stopped by police.

Source: Reason



  1. Robert

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