In too many states, it is entirely legal for “law enforcement to seize cash and property without ever charging anyone with any crime.” That practice is called “civil asset forfeiture.”
On Wednesday, Ohio’s Republican Governor John Kasich signed a bill that takes a step in the right direction.
The Institute for Justice’s Nick Sibilla writes in Forbes:
Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed a bill today that will require a criminal conviction before law enforcement can permanently confiscate property for many civil forfeiture cases. Only 11 other states have similar or stricter requirements.
“Civil forfeiture is one of the most serious assaults on due process and private property rights in the United States today,” Institute for Justice Legislative Counsel Lee McGrath said in a statement. “Ohio’s new law should protect many from this abuse of power.”
Under the legislation, HB 347, Ohio will set a new threshold for civil forfeiture. To forfeit properties valued at under $15,000, the government must first convict the property’s owner in criminal court.
HB 347 also enacts better safeguards to protect private property rights. The legislation shifts the burden of proof from innocent owners onto the state—where it belongs. Ohioans will no longer have to prove their innocence. Moreover, HB 347 will raise the standard of proof to forfeit property in civil court from “preponderance of the evidence” to the tougher standard of “clear and convincing evidence.”
Read his full piece at Forbes.