Ohio representatives Rob McColley and Tom Brinkman have introduced a new bill that aims to change civil forfeiture laws in the state of Ohio. The bill asserts that prosecutor's must charge an individual with a crime before retaining their assets or property.
The civil forfeiture has long been a controversial law. According to the rule, law enforcement officers have the right to seize assets and property for crime suspects, without necessarily charging them or arresting them. The money and property then go into a federal asset forfeiture fund that is handled by the Justice Department. If individual does not contest the seizure or if they are found guilty, the department has the right to keep the funds.
The controversy arises because many representatives and citizens believe that civil forfeiture motivates prosecutor's to focus on profit, rather than the individual in question. According to reports, there are 13 Cincinnati law enforcement agencies who made $7.5 million in the last five years. Nationally, authorities have made $4.1 billion dollars since 2006.
McColley states that this bill would force law enforcement to focus on the criminals and not one “cash and cars.” The Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association opposes the bill because convictions aren’t always possible, for example, if a defendant goes on the run. They also think that their district is unfairly tainted by other departments’ misdeeds.
Ohioans seem to feel differently. 81% of all Ohio voters are for the bill. 83% of Republicans and 87% of Democrats also support the bill. They believe that authorities should not have the right to seize funds and properties without charges being made first.
For more on this bill, visit the Mansfield News Journal. You can also contact a Columbus criminal defense attorney at The Koffel Law Firm with any questions or to schedule a defense consultation.