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Lawmakers considering revamping Michigan's civil asset forfeiture law

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

This year, state lawmakers will try to rein in Michigan’s civil asset forfeiture law.

Under current law, Michigan police may seize cash, cars or other property from people suspected of crimes, even if they’re never convicted of committing a crime.

State House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) is backing legislation that would require a conviction to forfeit property worth up to $50,000.

“It will insure that law enforcement has the opportunity to continue to doing their jobs... while also protecting the constitutional rights of our state’s citizens,” says Chatfield.

The Republican leader of the House reached out to the state’s new Democratic Attorney General on the issue.

Attorney General Dana Nessel supports the legislation, though she would like to see some minor changes.

Nessel says she’s been involved in civil asset forfeiture cases, as a prosecutor and as a private attorney.

“I’ve handled so many of these cases during the course of my career. So I’ve had the opportunity to see the way it really impacts people,” says Nessel.

Despite having the backing of the state House Speaker and the Attorney General the fate of the legislation is unclear.

Similar legislation died last year in the state Senate. 

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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