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This image is going around Facebook, and reads (emphasis original):

Pimps wear lots of gold jewelry bought at pawn shops to "re-pawn" for bail money since cash is confiscated upon arrest but jewelry is not.

I question the claim that cash is confiscated upon arrest. Is this true under normal circumstances?

The image doesn't mention a jurisdiction, but I'm assuming from the context that it's probably talking about (at least) the United States. Realizing that is still a very large and varied area, lets just focus on whether cash is automatically confiscated upon arrest of anyone charged with sex trafficking (or similar charges) in any US jurisdiction.


1 Answer 1


It's rather common, yes, if we are to believe the idea of Asset forfeiture. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asset_forfeiture

This applies, but is not limited, to terrorist activities, drug related crimes, and other criminal and even civil offenses. ... The purpose of asset forfeiture is to disrupt criminal activity by confiscating assets that potentially could have been beneficial to the individual or organization.

It may not apply to all states, but it happens. Also, it may not be "automatic", because the cops can choose not to enforce it. But regarding sex trafficking, where money is the core reason, cash is almost guaranteed to be confiscated as it's earned in illegal matters. Again, though, it may depend on state/where you live.

This also leaves the image to be false, as cops seem to be able to confiscate almost anything, including jewelry.

Federal and most state laws allow both civil and criminal asset forfeitures. In civil asset forfeiture, action is taken against a person’s property or assets, not against an individual. A person’s property is the target of the legal proceeding, and the owner is secondary. The owner does not have to be arrested or convicted of a crime to have his property taken. By contrast, criminal forfeitures occur against a person after conviction for an underlying criminal offense.

Quote source: http://www.ij.org/part-i-policing-for-profit

Additional sources I found regarding this:


  • 3
    Wouldn't this also apply to gold jewelry, though? Jan 21, 2015 at 15:01
  • Gold jewelry is still jewelry. Cops aren't dumb, and it's far from uncommon that people pawn stuff to get cash for drugs or gambling for example.
    – Sharain
    Jan 21, 2015 at 15:19
  • 1
    Asset forfeiture certainly exists, but is it routinely enforced against most people who are arrested? That seems to be the sort of thing that's claimed. Jan 21, 2015 at 16:46
  • 3
    It would not surprise me if jewelry was easier to recover. Cash, it's very hard to prove that you didn't use it in a drug deal. Ditto with the house you're living in or your car. Jewelry, on the other hand, tends to be fairly unique and distinctive and aren't directly related to the crime. While it's getting into speculation, I also wouldn't be surprised if it was easier for the person taking your personal effects to convincingly state you only had $5 in your wallet than to make a carved ring disappear off the records. Jan 21, 2015 at 19:15
  • 1
    Note that this isn't talking about arrests in general, but pimps. Any money they have is likely ill-gotten gains and subject to forfeiture. Jan 23, 2015 at 1:18

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