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Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform

Although criminal forfeiture has been an important tool for law enforcement, civil asset forfeiture has been used to seize, forfeit, and profit off property that may or may not be tied to criminal activity. We must maintain vigilance and oversight over the federal civil asset forfeiture program because it is too ripe for abuse. Additional safeguards must be implemented to ensure innocent property owners do not have property seized and forfeited without due process. 

To help curb actual and potential abuses and restore the balance of power back to individual citizens, Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD) and I introduced H.R. 2857, the Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration Act. This bipartisan legislation would: 

  • Raise the level of proof necessary for the government to seize property
  • Restore the principle of “innocent until proven guilty” by placing the burden on the government to prove a property owner had knowledge of criminal activity
  • Increase transparency of civil forfeiture proceeds by requiring more vigorous reporting by the DOJ
  • Eliminates equitable sharing
  • Requires all forfeiture funds to flow to the general treasury rather than the unaccountable Asset Forfeiture Fund
  • Reforms the I.R.S. structuring statute to protect innocent business owners from seizure
  • Grants counsel to individuals defending against civil asset forfeiture

    The FAIR Act has been endorsed by the Institute for Justice, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and the ACLU showing the wide ideological spectrum that supports reform. Civil asset forfeiture reform is also supported by groups like the Heritage Foundation and the CATO Institute.

    Legislative Actions

    04/27/2021 - Walberg, Raskin Lead Bipartisan Push to Reform Civil Asset Forfeiture Laws
    07/30/2020 - Walberg, Rasken Amendment on Forfeiture Reform Passes the House
    06/20/2019 - House Approves Walberg, Raskin Amendment to Curb Civil Asset Forfeiture Abuse
    03/27/2019Walberg, Raskin Introduce Bipartisan Reforms to Rein in Civil Asset Forfeiture Abuse
    11/10/2017Walberg Leads Bipartisan Push to Rein in Civil Asset Forfeiture
    09/12/2017 - House Passes Walberg Amendment to Rein in Civil Forfeiture Abuse
    03/16/2017 - Walberg, Paul Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Curb Civil Asset Forfeiture Abuse
    05/25/2016 - Walberg-Backed Asset Forfeiture Legislation Advances Through Judiciary Committee
    05/19/2016 - Walberg Applauds Judiciary Committee Legislation Incorporating His Civil Asset Forfeiture Reforms
    04/30/2015 - Leading small business, taxpayer organizations endorse the FAIR Act
    04/15/2015 - Paul, Walberg applaud Grassley for highlighting civil asset forfeiture abuse
    03/31/2015 - Rep.Walberg responds to DOJ’s new civil asset forfeiture restrictions
    01/27/2015 - Rep. Walberg introduced the Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration Act of 2015
    01/26/2015 - Rep. Walberg sends letter to Chairman Grassley and Ranking Member Leahy regarding civil asset forfeiture
    07/28/2014 - Rep. Walberg introduced H.R. 5212, the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2014, in the 113th Congress
    06/02/2014 - Rep. Walberg colloquy during H.R. 4660 CJS Amendment Debate


    05/30/2019 - Detroit Free Press | Reps. Tim Walberg and Jamie Raskin: States have changed forfeiture laws, now it's the federal government's turn
    06/05/2015 - Lansing State Journal | Rep. Tim Walberg and Rep. Kevin Cotter: Innocent until proven guilty? Not quite
    01/30/2015 - | Sen. Paul and Rep. Walberg: How feds can legally steal your money
    09/04/2014 - Washington Post | Rep. Walberg: Stopping the abuse of civil forfeiture
    04/30/2014 - Washington Post | George Will: The heavy hand of the IRS


    03/28/2019 - WLNS: Walberg Trying to Reform Asset Forfeiture
    09/12/2017 - Walberg Champions Amendment to Rein in Civil Forfeiture Abuse
    12/01/2016 - Walberg Questions DOJ, DEA Officials on Asset Forfeiture Abuse
    07/15/2015Walberg talks civil asset forfeiture, criminal justice reform at an Oversight Committee hearing
    06/25/2015 - Walberg testifies before the Judiciary Committee about the FAIR Act
    01/27/2015Walberg & Sen. Paul along with Reps. Ellison, Cardenas and Garrett introduce the FAIR Act
    09/10/2014 - Walberg spoke on the House floor about Terry Dehko, whose property was unlawfully seized by the IRS
    07/29/2014Walberg joins a Heritage Foundation panel to discuss civil asset forfeiture reform

    Related News:

    09/20/2021 - Fox 46 | Government seizes billions in cash from air travelers without ever filing a criminal charge
    07/19/2021 - The Bulwark Maine Bans Civil Asset Forfeiture
    03/09/2021 - National Review | Time for Congress to Reform Civil Asset Forfeiture
    08/21/2020 - National ReviewCivil-Asset Forfeiture Should Be an Easy Place to Start on Criminal-Justice Reform
    06/29/2020 - Las Vegas Review-Journal | EDITORIAL: Forfeiture bill a good first step for police reform
    04/24/2019 - Real Clear Politics | It's Time to Reform Federal Forfeiture Law
    03/27/2019 - Daily Signal | This Bill Would Close a Loophole That Robs Americans of Due Process​
    01/11/2019 - Forbes | Congressman Slams Civil Forfeiture As 'A Series Of Government Shakedowns'
    11/29/2017 - Daily SignalCongress Should Protect Americans from Unjust Property Seizure
    10/24/2017 - Orange County RegisterCivil asset forfeiture must be curtailed
    10/10/2017 - Adrian Daily Telegram Amendment aims to end some federal civil forfeitures
    10/05/2017 - CBS NewsFor GOP, an internal struggle in the ongoing tension between liberty and security
    09/18/2017 - Daily SignalCongress Takes Positive Steps to Protect Property Owners From Asset Seizure
    09/17/2017 - Wall Street JournalReining in Mr. Sessions
    09/13/2017 - CNNHouse tries to force DOJ's hand on asset forfeiture
    09/12/2017 - Reason | House Approves Amendments to Block Sessions’ Asset Forfeiture Directive
    04/21/2017 - Fox News | Sen. Paul, Scott Bullock: Civil forfeiture has ruined countless lives. It's long overdue for reform
    04/06/2017 - Mecury News editorial | Civil asset forfeiture should outrage conservatives and progressives
    03/30/2017 - Toledo Blade editorial | Taming Federal Forfeiture
    03/26/2017 - Orange County Register | End perverse incentives for seizing assets
    03/17/2017 - The Hill | Rand Paul, Tim Walberg bring forfeiture reform to the 115th Congress
    05/22/2016 - Adrian Daily Telegram | Our View: End property seizure without actual proof
    05/21/2016 - Hillsdale Daily News | Congress takes action to reform civil asset forfeiture laws
    04/29/2016 - The Oklahoman | Oklahoma governor signs civil asset forfeiture law
    04/24/2016 - Washington Post | How police took $53,000 from a Christian band, an orphanage and a church
    04/22/2016 - Daily Signal | Nebraska Abolishes Civil Forfeiture
    04/01/2016 - Huffington Post | Florida Just Made It Harder For Police To Take People’s Stuff
    03/28/2016 - Washington Post | The feds have resumed a controversial program that lets cops take stuff and keep it
    02/01/2016 - Daily Signal | New Maryland Reform Makes It Harder for Police to Unjustly Seize Property
    01/05/2016 - Washington Times | Reining in unjust ‘policing for profit’
    11/10/2015 - Washington Post | New report: In tough times, police start seizing a lot more stuff from people
    10/21/2015 - MLive | Snyder signs Michigan civil asset forfeiture laws requiring more transparency, evidence
    10/07/2015 - Fox 17 | Civil asset forfeiture reform bills pass unanimously, headed to governor’s desk
    10/06/2015 - Livingston Daily News | Report: Outlaw Michigan’s civil forfeiture law
    09/15/2015 - Cincinnati Enquirer | Editorial: Reform police asset seizure program
    07/31/2015 - Daily Caller | Michigan Police Endorse Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform
    07/28/2015 - Cato Institute | Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform in Congress
    07/16/2015 - Detroit News | Police grabs of civilian cash stir legislative revolt
    07/15/2015 - Wall Street Journal | The IRS’s Ill-Gotten Gains
    07/08/2015 - Michigan Radio | Bipartisan coalition pushing back against civil asset forfeiture
    07/08/2015 - Daily Signal | 3 Reasons Stopping Police From Wrongly Seizing Americans’ Assets Will Be Tough
    06/26/2015 - Washington Times | Congress examines plans to reform justice system
    06/25/2015 - Fox 17 | New efforts to reform Michigan’s civil asset forfeiture laws
    06/11/2015 - Daily Signal | This Is the Moment for Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform
    06/04/2015 - MLive | Michigan House approves civil asset forfeiture reform, reporting package
    05/28/2015 - Daily Signal | Takeaway of Reform: It’d Be Harder for Authorities to Take Away Your Cash, Property
    05/19/2015 - CNBC | Police cash confiscations still on the rise
    05/12/2015 - The Atlantic | The Injustice of Civil-Asset Forfeiture
    05/07/2015 - Fox 17 | Federal, state lawmakers push forward on reforms for asset forfeiture laws
    04/23/2015 - MLive | Civil asset forfeiture reform package in Michigan House seeks to limit police confiscation power
    04/20/2015 - Heritage Foundation | Civil Asset Forfeiture: Good Intentions Gone Awry and the Need for Reform
    04/09/2015 - Townhall | Congress Must Step Up and Reform Civil Asset Forfeiture Laws
    04/05/2015 - The Virginian-Pilot | Sibilla: No conviction, no confiscation
    03/30/2015 - Washington Times | The tide is turning against asset forfeiture and Loretta Lynch
    03/28/2015 - Santa Fe New Mexican | Our View: Stop policing for profit in New Mexico
    03/25/2015 - Forbes | New Mexico Nixes Civil Asset Forfeiture
    03/05/2015 - Detroit News | House Speaker: Michigan must reform asset forfeiture
    02/25/2015 - Fox 17 | Crime fighting or questionable raids? A look at MI’s asset forfeiture laws
    02/23/2015 - Detroit Free Press | Police seize property and cash in questionable raids
    02/17/2015 - The Daily Signal | Police Have the Power to Seize Your Property. See Why the Issue Is Uniting Democrats and Republicans.
    02/10/2015 - Politico Magazine | IRS Seizes First, Asks Questions Later
    02/05/2015 - Monroe News | Civil forfeiture: Time for reform
    02/05/2015 - Holland Sentinel: Right, left unite to curtail abuse of 'asset forfeiture' 
    01/30/2015 - Tax News: Bills Curbs IRS Asset Forfeitures
    01/29/2015 - Detroit News: Reform State Forfeiture Laws 
    01/28/2015 - The Hill: Lynch Hearing Opportunity to Discuss Asset Forfeiture
    01/28/2015 - Michigan Radio: Walberg bills could make it harder for police to seize property
    01/28/2015 - CNS News: Congressional Coalition Seeks to Stem Abuse of Civil Asset Forfeiture Laws
    01/27/2015 - Free Beacon: Bipartisan Asset Forfeiture Reform Bill Introduced
    01/27/2015 - Washington Post: Lawmakers Push for Asset Forfeiture Reform
    01/12/2015 - Reason: New York Forfeiture Department is a Mess
    12/29/2014 - Dallas Morning News:  Asset Forfeiture Corrupts 
    12/16/2014 - Mackinac Center for Public Policy | What are the Real Motives Behind Asset Seizures?
    12/14/2014 - The Des Moines Register | Prosecutors drop effort to seize Iowa restaurant's cash 
    11/21/2014 - WSJ: Lynch’s Money Pot
    11/20/2014 - USA Today | When police play bounty hunter: Our view
    11/17/2014 - The Heritage Foundation Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Goes Mainstream
    10/29/2014 - Thomas Reuters | IRS clarifies its position on civil forfeitures in uncharged structuring cases
    10/28/2014 - Hillsdale Daily News | Walberg introduces legislation to reform civil asset forfeiture laws
    10/25/2014 -  The New York Times | Law Lets I.R.S. Seize Accounts on Suspicion, No Crime Required 
    09/30/2014 - The Blaze | The Government Doesn't Need to Charge You With a Crime to Seize Your Assets and Property 
    09/29/2014 - ForbesThis Federal Program Lets Cops Seize Cash, Evade State Laws and Keep Over a Billion Dollars 
    09/18/2014 - Washington Post | Government self-interest corrupted a crime-fighting tool into an evil 
    09/16/2014 - BBC News |  The growing outcry over police confiscation
    09/12/2014 - Forbes: After Cops Seized and Kept Cash, Washington, D.C. Settles Almost Million-Dollar Forfeiture Class Action 
    08/18/2014 – The Daily Signal: Arresting Your Cash: Heritage Panel Discusses Civil Forfeiture Reform
    08/15/2014 – Washington Times: When the highway robber wears a badge
    08/13/2014 – Civil Asset Forfeiture Looks Like a Criminal Enterprise
    08/12/2014 – City Paper: Philly DA sued over $5.8 million civil forfeiture “machine”
    07/31/2014 – The Washington Post: Rep. Tim Walberg introduces bill to curb asset forfeiture abuse
    07/29/2014 – House Bill introduced to Make it Harder for Feds to Take Your Stuff
    04/14/2014 – Washington Times: RAHN: Abuse civil asset-forfeiture laws
    04/13/2014 – The Economist: What civil-asset forfeiture means