Arizona Poised to Join Growing List of States Reforming Civil Asset Forfeiture
Despite the objections and lobbying of law enforcement, the Arizona Legislature approved a bill that would require a person be convicted of a crime before cops could seize property through civil asset forfeiture.
It’s a big step for common sense. Reason’s C.J. Ciaramella notes:
Among other provisions, the legislation will also require the government to prove property was being used in connection to illegal activity, strengthen notice requirements when property is seized, and ban the use of roadside waivers that police use to get people to sign over their property.
Under typical civil asset forfeiture laws, law enforcement can seize property suspected of being connected to criminal activity, even if the owner hasn’t been charged or convicted of a crime.
The law enforcement lobby was not happy with the result, but the movement to reform, or outright repeal civil asset forfeiture laws is growing:
…Arizona is now on the verge of joining 15 other states that require criminal convictions before property can be forfeited. More than half of all states have passed some form of civil asset forfeiture reform over the past decade because of civil liberties concerns, and three states—New Mexico, Nebraska, and North Carolina—have abolished it entirely.
Good. Protecting both property and due process rights is an essential government function – one that trumps the desire of prosecutors and police departments to take – and keep — property from the innocent.