Gov. Snyder signs civil asset forfeiture reform bills

Posted at 7:02 PM, Oct 20, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-20 19:02:33-04

LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Rick Snyder on Tuesday signed a package of bills aimed at reforming the state’s civil asset forfeiture procedures.

The reforms will mandate police reporting while also increasing the burden of proof in civil court for individuals who have property seized by police.  They were unanimously passed by state lawmakers earlier this month.

The new laws will change disclosure rules, requiring local law enforcement to file detailed annual reports to the state when property is forfeited.   They also raise the evidentiary standards to “clear and convincing” rather than the current “preponderance of evidence.”

Last year, police agencies across Michigan seized nearly $24 million in property through the civil asset forfeiture law, according to the latest available report from Michigan State Police.

State Police have long defended the practice, saying it’s a “critical” tool to stopping drug trafficking.

“Michigan residents deserve transparency from government, and these new reporting requirements will raise the bar so that a fair balance is struck between private property rights and law enforcement’s effective ability to do their job in pursuing criminal activity,” Snyder said Tuesday in a release.