Michigan’s Civil Asset Forfeiture Law Update
I have been speaking with my listeners of my show for years now on the misguided civil asset forfeiture law in Michigan and quite frankly around the country.
For those of you who many not entirely understand what Civil Asset Forfeiture is in Michigan, it is a practice by which law enforcement transfers assets such as; cash, vehicles, homes, etc. from you the private citizens to the state and local government. This is different from criminal forfeiture which occurs after the conviction of a person and is widely-accepted as legitimate.
The problem with Civil Asset Forfeiture as the Mackinac Center for Public Policy sees it and I whole heartedly agree is:
Civil forfeiture occurs outside of the criminal justice system and does not require a conviction of a crime. This has led to instances of abuse in Michigan, which has among the lowest-rated forfeiture laws in the United States. The Mackinac Center believes property should only be transferred from citizens to the government after a criminal conviction is secured.
I think most people who actually use their common sense would agree that our assets should not be taken unless we are actually convicted of a crime, regardless if we plead down to a charge or not.
The Michigan House of Representatives yesterday passed a bill that would tighten the rules for assets seized through Michigan’s civil asset forfeiture.
The Michigan House approved House Bill 4158 83-26.
Michigan’s House Bill 4158 would prohibit civil asset forfeitures for drug crimes unless there is a conviction or plea agreement, no one claims the property or the property owner relinquishes the property. This bill addresses seized property valued at $50,000 or less.
Well that is a step in the right direction, but we must not stop here. We need to continue to protect the citizens of Michigan from the “state” and their need and want to seize assets and keep them without a conviction.
The bill is now on its way to state Senate. Obviously the bill needs to pass the full Senate and be signed by Gov. Rick Snyder to become law.