Articles Tagged with civil asset reform

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Last year, police in Utah seized over $2.5 million in cash and property using civil asset forfeiture. This is a sharp increase on the $1.4 million seized in 2016, fueling concerns that property may be taken from innocent people.

Civil asset forfeiture is a system which allows law enforcement to seize property suspected of being connected to a crime. Before the property can be seized permanently, law enforcement in Utah is required to show clear, convincing evidence that it was linked to a crime. However, this requirement falls below the standard followed in criminal cases: that it must be proved “beyond reasonable doubt.” No criminal charges are needed for police to take property.
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The city of Albuquerque has announced it will end its civil asset forfeiture program. This change comes over two years after civil asset forfeiture was essentially banned at the state level in New Mexico.

In 2016, Arlene Harjo had her 2014 Nissan Versa seized by the city of Albuquerque. She never committed a crime, nor was she even charged with one. At the time her car was seized, Arlene had lent it to her son, Tino. He was stopped and charged with drunk driving. While Arlene agreed her son should be punished if he broke the law, she did not agree she should lose her car because of it. Continue reading

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A case of civil asset forfeiture involving a Hoosier’s seized Land Rover may end up on the U.S. Supreme Court’s docket. If they agree to hear the case, it could transform the approach of law enforcement to civil asset forfeiture across the nation.

Civil asset forfeiture is the process where law enforcement can seize property suspected of being involved in a crime. It is legal in most states, and few states require a criminal conviction for the property to be seized. Proceeds from the profits of civil asset forfeiture are often used to fund law enforcement, leading to accusations of policing for profit. Continue reading

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A bill giving new protections for people involved in civil asset forfeiture has now passed both houses of the Tennessee legislature. If Governor Haslam signs it into law, it may become easier for people to regain property seized by law enforcement.

The bill passed the State Senate with unanimous support and was supported by both civil rights and libertarian groups. “This is a rare bill because you had the ACLU on one side and the Beacon Center on the other, and they both agreed on it,” said Sen. Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga), who cosponsored the bill. Continue reading

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In Kansas, Governor Jeff Coyler has signed a bill into law imposing strict reporting requirements on law enforcement in cases of civil asset forfeiture. The changes bring transparency to the state’s forfeiture procedures and may lead to further reforms.

In a statement, Coyler said the new law, “will allow us to better protect Kansans’ property rights while also ensuring law enforcement have the tools they need to be effective.”

State Rep. Gail Finney (D–Wichita), who spearheaded the state’s reform, says the law represents a good first step but that more far-reaching changes will be needed. Continue reading