The Trump administration may be trying to roll back civil asset forfeiture reforms at the federal level, but the trend continues in the states. Michigan is the latest to pass a law requiring a criminal conviction before you can seize someone’s property. And as in other states, it was a bipartisan effort.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday signed into law bipartisan legislation to reform state civil asset forfeiture rules by requiring a conviction before police can permanently confiscate property in most cases.
The criminal justice reform, spearheaded by Republican Sen. Pete Lucido of Shelby Township, will take effect in 2020 and does not apply to drug distribution cases where seized property is worth more than $50,000.
But in most controlled substance cases, it would prohibit law enforcement agencies from using the civil asset forfeiture process to take ownership of personal property unless or until an individual is convicted or pleads guilty to a crime.
“No one should profit from criminal activity,” Lucido said. “But to take somebody’s goods and deprive them before there’s been due process delivered is an injustice.”
Exactly right, and exactly what the Constitution requires. It’s incredible to me that the courts have upheld this practice, but I’m glad to see legislatures take it up on a bipartisan basis.