Michigan and federal policy makers should
Remove incentives for law enforcement agencies to employ asset forfeiture.End the
twin practices of allowing law enforcement agencies to profit from the sale of the assets
they seize and paying informants to provide information to help build forfeiture cases.
End federal "adoption" of state forfeiture cases.
Shift the burden of proof from property owners to government. Property owners must
currently establish the "innocence" of their property once it has been seized.
Government should be required to show proof that disputed property is connected to illegal
activity before it can be seized.
Establish nexus and proportionality requirements for forfeiture.Current law should
be changed to require government to show connection between specific property and a
crime for which guilt has been found. The amount of property seized should be in
proportion to the crime committed by its owner.
Eliminate legal hurdles to citizens’ ability to challenge forfeiture.Lawmakers
should extend the length of time citizens are given to file claims to seized property and
eliminate the requirement that they post bond to do so. Successful claimants should be
reimbursed by the government for expenses incurred during forfeiture proceedings.
Require law enforcement agents to publicly justify forfeiture proceedings. Law
enforcement agencies should be required to publish an explanation each time they seize and
retain private property. The resulting public awareness will encourage self-restraint on
the part of law enforcement agencies.
Enact protections against forfeiture for innocent owners of property.Language in
forfeiture statutes should be strengthened to ensure that property owners who have
not participated in, or acquiesced to, a crime committed with their property are not
punished with forfeiture.
Give third-party creditors the chance to recover seized property.Innocent third
parties with an interest in seized property, such as lien holders, should be given a
judicial remedy to recover against the government.
Ensure that asset forfeiture reforms do not include an expanded definition of criminal behavior. If asset forfeiture is allowed only upon proof of a related crime, lawmakers
should resist any urge to broaden the definition of criminal behavior to include currently