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Political Editors / April 4, 2016

Florida Reforms Its Civil Asset Forfeiture Laws

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have due process in the Sunshine State.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have due process in the Sunshine State. Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a bill into law requiring law enforcement to actually arrest and charge someone with a crime before they take their money and property through forfeiture programs. “The big deal with this particular reform is that, in most cases, Florida police will actually have to arrest and charge a person with a crime before attempting to seize and keep their money and property under the state’s asset forfeiture laws,” wrote Reason’s Scott Shackford. “One of the major ways asset forfeiture gets abused is that it is frequently a ‘civil’, not criminal, process where police and prosecutors are able to take property without even charging somebody with a crime, let alone convicting them.”

Despite burglars taking only $3.5 billion from the American people in 2014, American law enforcement seized over $5 billion — often from people who were never charged, only suspected, with a crime. The Department of “Justice” recently restarted a program that encouraged law enforcement in the practice by pooling the seized money and distributing it across departments. They came, they saw, they took, but Florida is leading with important reform.

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