Innocent Until Proven Guilty

Innocent until proven guilty? Maybe.

However, your property is not innocent until proven guilty.

From Michigan:

Current state law allows the Michigan State Police and other law enforcement agencies to raid a home, confiscate property, sell it, and deposit the money in the department coffers all without a conviction but merely on suspicion that drug violations occurred.

Unfortunately this is not a Michigan issue. It’s become more and more common as a result of the federal government’s war on drugs. There is good news, several states have introduced legislation to restrict government’s ability to grab property without a conviction.

Representative Jeff Irwin in Michigan introduced a bill to prohibit forfeiture of property by law enforcement unless a person is convicted of a crime. HB4361

Also New Mexico HB0560

New Mexico police must now convict you of a crime and prove your property was used in the crime before you forfeit it to the authorities. Also, the money gained from the property will now go to the state’s general fund instead of police budgets, so that police do not have incentives to take from citizens.

Additional bills have been introduced in: Texas, Oklahoma, Maryland, Indiana (transparency only but a step in the right direction), and Florida.

It’s not all good news, bills to reform asset forfeiture have been shut down in: Virgina, Wyoming, and Colorado.

A bill to expand the government’s power to seize your property has been introduced in California.

Several groups are working to stop government from using asset forfeiture to encroach on property rights. For more info I recommend Americans For Forfeiture Reform.

 

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