Forfeiture is a practice by which law enforcement transfers assets – cash, vehicles, homes, etc. – from private citizens to the government. Criminal forfeiture occurs after the conviction of a person and is widely-accepted as legitimate.
The problem is with civil forfeiture.
Civil forfeiture occurs outside of the criminal justice system and does not require a conviction of a crime. This has led to instances of abuse in Michigan, which has among the lowest-rated forfeiture laws in the United States. The Mackinac Center believes property should only be transferred from citizens to the government after a criminal conviction is secured.
This study explains how civil forfeiture works, how it differs from criminal forfeiture and what reforms state policymakers should consider in order to protect the rights of Michigan residents.