Some hope is on the horizon for those advocating for reforms in civil asset forfeiture.

The Arizona Legislature is close to approving changes to state civil asset forfeiture procedures. The bill would require a person be convicted of a crime before law enforcement could seize any property related to that crime:

The central provision of the bill is that it would require prosecutors to obtain a conviction against someone before permanently taking their property, which would make Arizona the 20th state to enshrine such a protection in law. Among its other provisions, HB2810 also prohibits the Arizona Attorney General’s Office from using money from its anti-racketeering fund to pay employee salaries, and changes the timeline for forfeiture proceedings to make it easier for people to challenge the seizure of their property.

The state must provide notice that it intends to take someone’s property through forfeiture, and owners or other interested parties currently have 30 days to challenge that forfeiture attempt in court. The government then has another 60 days to initiate forfeiture, after which the case goes to civil court.

Law enforcement agencies oppose the bill, saying it would stop them from fighting crime. What it really does is make them respect the Constitution…and remove the perverse incentives that encourage cops to seize property from innocent people.

Image Credit: By Cellofellow (Gadsden_flag.svg) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons