Legislation would catalog property until a conviction
Legislation submitted today by state Rep. Peter Lucido of Shelby Township would require a criminal conviction before the process of civil asset forfeiture could begin.
As written, the bill would require law enforcement agencies to catalog the property suspected of being related to criminal activity and, once a conviction is obtained, initiate the civil asset forfeiture process.
“While I completely agree with the notion a criminal should not profit from a crime, we need to protect the property of those accused until they are actually found guilty – isn’t that basic fairness?” Lucido said. “Collecting evidence isn’t open season for collecting property, it is part of an investigation. If that investigation doesn’t lead to a conviction and punishment, the property is not a consolation prize. It belongs with the rightful owner.”
The legislation follows prior asset forfeiture reforms sponsored by Lucido and approved by Gov. Rick Snyder. In January, Snyder signed into law a repeal of the requirement which called for property owners to post a 10 percent bond – not less than $250 or more than $5,000 – within 20 days of seizure by law enforcement officials to start the process of potentially returning the property to its owners.
Today’s legislation would protect all property until conviction.
“In my many years as an attorney, I have seen the process of civil asset forfeiture spiral out of control,” said Rep. Lucido. “We must pride ourselves on living in a society which preserves and protects our fundamental property rights.”
House Bill 4158 has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee.