LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Peter J. Lucido said on Thursday he will introduce legislation to ensure innocent Michigan residents don’t lose their personal property to civil asset forfeiture.
Current law allows law enforcement to seize property based on probable cause, but Senate Bill 2 would require that an individual be convicted of 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.
“I made reforming Michigan’s civil asset forfeiture process my top priority when I came to Lansing four years ago. Since that time, I have succeeded in amending three aspects of the law. This is just one more common-sense reform to protect the due process rights of innocent property owners, while still empowering law enforcement to be tough on crime,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lucido, R-Shelby Township. “Too many for too long have abused the current process, in some cases personally enriching themselves, while ruining people’s lives.”
Lucido said current law enables law enforcement to arbitrarily apply civil asset forfeiture to take ownership of property when a crime has simply been suspected and, while property owners may contest the seizure, it is a financially costly process that further harms the innocent.
The issue, which Lucido worked years to enact while a member of the state House of Representatives, passed that chamber with overwhelming bipartisan support in 2018 but stalled in the Senate. Now a member of the Senate, Lucido has renewed his push for this change to public policy.
“I appreciate the opportunity to pursue this needed reform as we begin the 100th Legislature,” said Lucido, who is a former probation officer and criminal defense lawyer with more than 30 years of experience. “I look forward to working with my new Senate colleagues to get this done to protect Michigan’s property owners.”
SB 2 is expected to be referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee when it is formally introduced.