Starling, who operated a successful mobile food cart business at the time of the seizure, expressed relief at the return of her funds, emphasizing the importance of understanding one’s rights in such situations.
However, no drugs were found during the raid, and the boyfriend was later acquitted by a jury.
Despite this, Starling’s money was confiscated under civil asset forfeiture laws, a controversial practice that allows law enforcement agencies to seize assets suspected of being connected to criminal activity.
Legal experts have criticized civil forfeiture laws for undermining the presumption of innocence and placing the burden of proof on property owners, particularly those without the resources to mount a legal defense.
The Institute for Justice, which represented Starling in her forfeiture case, is now seeking interest payments for the three years her money was held.
Starling hopes that her experience will shed light on the flaws in the current forfeiture system and encourage reforms to protect individuals’ rights in similar situations.