Our law firm serves clients in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and throughout southwest Michigan.

What do civil asset forfeiture law changes mean for travelers?

Your property rights are among your most protected personal rights, but there are notable limits. For example, you do not have the right to retain property utilized in the commission of a crime or purchased with the proceeds of criminal activity, such personal property is subject to forfeiture.

Those convicted of significant criminal offenses may lose some of their property as a result. However, it has long been possible for certain law enforcement officers to seize property without prosecuting someone.

Civil asset forfeiture is the process through which police take belongings they assume connect with criminal activity without convicting the owner of a criminal offense. Recent changes to Michigan’s civil asset forfeiture law might be reason for concern for some visitors.

Cash forfeiture at airports could be more likely due to new rules

Previously, the law required a criminal conviction for the state to seize any property worth $50,000 or more. This rule was the result of reform efforts that aimed to curtail abuses of civil asset forfeiture, especially in relation to non-violent drug offenses and those never charged with a crime. However, lawmakers have since rolled back those changes, reducing the threshold to allow for more cash seizures.

For those who fly through Michigan airports, the new floor for conviction-less seizures is now $20,000. Those traveling with large amounts of cash, possibly to buy vehicles, livestock or real property, could face the seizure of those assets due to claims that they would use the funds for drug trafficking purposes.

Individuals traveling to Michigan may need to make alternate arrangements to transport or transfer financial resources so that they don’t draw the attention of airport authorities and lose their cash.

How do you fight civil asset forfeiture?

There are ways for individuals who lose their property to civil asset forfeiture to fight the process and potentially regain what they lost. Proving either how you obtain certain property or what you intended to do with the cash that you had on you when you entered Michigan could theoretically help you fight the unfair seizure of your resources.

Learning more about civil asset forfeiture and other criminal laws in Michigan will help those dealing with complex police-related issues.

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