LANSING, Mich. — The state Senate on Wednesday approved legislation that would reform the state’s civil asset forfeiture law.
Current Michigan law allows law enforcement agencies to seize property if an individual is suspected of using the property in relation to various crimes. Property that has been seized by law enforcement can then be sold or used by the agency without criminal charges or a conviction.
“As lawmakers, one of our responsibilities is to ensure that private citizens’ rights are protected,” said Sen. Jon Bumstead, R-Newaygo. “These laws are put in place to help law enforcement agencies go after criminals, not to allow government agencies to unfairly take property from citizens.”
Senate Bill 2 would require that an individual be convicted of or plead guilty to a crime before law enforcement could take ownership of personal property through the civil asset forfeiture process. Seized personal property would be returned if a person is not convicted of a crime.
“The law will still allow our state’s law enforcement agencies to effectively safeguard our communities and investigate criminal activity, while also ensuring the constitutional rights of Michigan residents are protected,” Bumstead said. “These reforms simply focus on ensuring the correct and ethical use of the process.”
SB 2 now advances to the House of Representatives for consideration.