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

Michigan still allows the controversial civil forfeiture process

People tend to understand that the police can seize property when they are arresting someone for a crime. For example, if they pull someone over and find illegal drugs in their car, they can seize the drugs and the vehicle as evidence of that crime.

But did you know that the process of civil forfeiture can also be used even if someone hasn’t been charged with a crime? The police in Michigan have a lot of leeway to simply take property, and some of the stories of how they do this may surprise you.

Trying to barter for new police vehicles

For example, one report claims that a police chief and a mayor teamed up to carry out an impromptu fire inspection at a medical marijuana building. Medical marijuana is legal in Michigan, but the inspection was still carried out and the building was seized by the government.

No one was charged with a crime in this case, although the mayor later said that he “thought” they were. Even so, the property owners were outraged to lose their building for around 17 months simply because the mayor didn’t know that no crimes had been committed.

Furthermore, the story claims that the police department asked them to purchase two new cars. The authorities said that they could get the property back if they gave those cars to the department. They were essentially trying to barter with the person’s own property to get something in exchange.

The property has been returned

The story eventually made it into the local news, which is what caused the police department to give the property back to the rightful owners.

But would that have happened if the story hadn’t gotten such attention or made it into the news? How many other cases are there where the police are taking assets without charging anyone with a crime and then keeping them for months, years or even indefinitely? If something like this happens to you, what type of financial harm would that cause, especially if the property that was seized by the police is related to your legitimate business?

Exploring your options

If you do find yourself in this type of situation, it’s incredibly crucial that you look into all of the defense options you have.

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