Legislature seeks to limit police confiscation powers
By CAITLIN McARTHUR
Capital News Service
LANSING — Michigan lawmakers want to make it harder for law enforcement agencies to take people’s stuff when they’re not charged with a crime. Legislators have introduced bills to reform the state’s “civil forfeiture laws,” which they and civil liberties advocates say encourage abuse by police agencies and infringe on citizen rights. Civil forfeiture law in Michigan allows police and prosecutors to confiscate a person’s car, property or money if they suspect it has been used in criminal activity — even if the owner is not charged with a crime. This is different from criminal forfeiture law, which requires the owner to be convicted in court before the asset can be seized. The money and proceeds from seized assets — $24 million in 2013 — go into agency budgets.