89.1 WEMU

Michigan House Bill Would Ban Seizing Assets Without Criminal Conviction

Feb 7, 2018

Police Car
Credit Wikipedia Media Commons / wikipedia.org

Some state lawmakers want to end the practice of allowing police agencies to seize and hold onto cash, cars, and other assets that they think might have played a role in illegal activity.  State law allows police departments to keep seized assets even if a suspect is never charged or convicted of a crime.


It happened about 500 times in 2016 – people who were never convicted of a crime still lost their seized property.  State Representative Peter Lucido told the state House Judiciary Committee that’s wrong.  He says it’s often too expensive for people to hire an attorney to recover their seized property.

“Who’s going to go hire a lawyer in the civil proceedings if the lawyer’s going to take $2,000 to get a thousand back.  Economic reality, folks.”

Civil forfeiture laws were adopted in the 1990s to help fight drug racketeering.  State House Judiciary Committee hearings will continue next week with testimony from law enforcement agencies.

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— Rick Pluta is the Managing Editor and Reporter for the Michigan Public Radio network.  Contact WEMU News at 734.487.3363 or email us at studio@wemu.org