70 Fla. L. Rev. 1379 (2018)
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Categories

Criminal Procedure

Abstract

Civil asset forfeiture compromises criminal due process protections for the sake of allowing the government to take property from citizens and pocket the profits. Within the last decade, several news outlets have reported instances where law enforcement agencies took property from citizens–without arresting or convicting them–and spent the proceeds from seized cash, homes, or vehicles on their own agencies. Because the government is often only required to prove that the property was associated with criminal activity by a preponderance of the evidence, many citizens are left without the resources or ability to defend their property, even when they are innocent. As a national movement builds toward challenging and reforming civil forfeiture laws, this Note evaluates existing reforms as implemented in some states and as proposed to state legislatures in others. This Note explores the viability of four major proposals for civil forfeiture reform. Without abolishing civil forfeiture altogether, these proposals could enhance due process protection for individuals fighting forfeitures. These proposals could also prevent the government from using civil forfeiture to make a profit rather than to achieve civil forfeiture’s original purpose: compensation.