” authored by Derek Cohen, policy analyst with the Center for Effective Justice. The study details how state and federal forfeiture procedures are being excessively used in many instances, as well as the lack of limitations provided to protect citizens’ rights.
“The practice of civil asset forfeiture operates in a more ambiguous area of law,” said Cohen. “Unlike legal action taken against a person under the allegation of criminal conduct and all the procedural safeguards that entails, civil forfeiture targets the property itself, not the owner, and can occur regardless of whether any criminal charges are brought forth.”
Cohen continues, “Commonsense reforms…are easily attainable through simple procedural adjustments. By shifting the burden of proof to the state, law enforcement agencies will be required to successfully argue their claim to the property before the forfeiture is considered valid. By elevating the sufficiency standard to ‘clear and convincing evidence’ or even ‘beyond a reasonable doubt,’ state officials will have a higher benchmark to clear in order to keep an individual’s property. Texas can lead the way in implementing these state-level reforms.”