Michigan House Approves Civil Asset Forfeiture Reforms

Bipartisan plan protects due process rights of residents
Friday, March 1, 2019

LANSING — Yesterday, the Michigan House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved House Bills 4001-4002, a bipartisan plan for civil asset forfeiture reform. Michigan law enforcement agencies reported confiscating $13.1 million in cash and property through civil asset forfeiture in 2017. In over 200 of those cases, people who were later found not guilty were still forced to forfeit their property. Additionally, there were 736 cases in which property was forfeited and criminal charges were never even filed.

“It is vital that government respect the Constitutional right to due process and protect people from government seizure of private property,” LaGrand said. “I’ve been on both sides of litigation on asset forfeiture as an assistant prosecutor and a defense attorney. I’ve seen firsthand that many citizens facing asset forfeiture are confused and lack the resources to defend themselves. This bipartisan plan allows police to continue to go after large criminal organizations while making sure innocent people have full access to justice.”

Under this package, law enforcement can still seize property if they have probable cause to believe it has been used in a crime, but they must return the property if the citizen is not found guilty in the criminal justice system. This change will ensure both the due process and property rights of citizens are respected throughout the criminal justice process. The package was referred to the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety committee for further consideration.