Attorney Shaun Willis of Willis Law recently authored an article for the December issue of the Michigan Bar Journal. The article, titled “Asset Seizures Under Scrutiny,” analyzes the state’s past and present civil asset forfeiture laws. Before undergoing modifications, Michigan’s laws stated that authorities could seize a resident’s property based simply off suspicion that it was obtained through criminal activity. This lack in transparency and oversight created room for error and dishonesty by entities who are tasked with the responsibility to protect and serve.
Changing The Standard of Evidence to Protect Property Rights
In August of 2010, Attorney Willis received a phone call from a gentleman in southwest Michigan who was placed under arrest for felony possession with intent to deliver marijuana. During the initial meeting Attorney Willis had with the client, he learned that the client’s vehicles were seized during the arrest – vehicles that were purchased well before any alleged illegal activity took place. The client later told Attorney Willis that the vehicles were taken because marijuana had been transported or stored in the vehicles. The client was left to choose between his freedom and possessions, which is in clear violation of his rights as a property owner.
According to the article, State Rep. Brandt Iden championed behind modifying the laws, which were also endorsed by the Michigan Association of Police Organizations. The reforms were approved in February of 2016 by Governor Rick Snyder and require law enforcement agencies to keep detailed records not only of what they’ve seized, but how the proceeds from the seizures are being used.
Furthermore, the new law changes the standard of evidence needed to lawfully seize an individual’s property – agencies must meet a standard of evidence that is clear and convincing. In the article, Attorney Willis states these necessary reforms will take the necessary action to protect property rights of all Michigan citizens.
If you’re arrested or are being investigated for a crime, we invite you to contact Willis Law to secure the defense you need. No case is too big or small for our Kalamazoo defense attorney – as our client, you can expect that we will work tirelessly to protect your rights and freedoms.
We’re qualified and prepared to advocate on your behalf. Call Willis Law at (888) 461-7744 to request a complimentary consultation.