Walberg Introduces Legislation to Protect Property Owners
Washington, D.C. - Today, Rep. Tim Walberg introduced H.R. 5212, the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act, which seeks to restore personal property rights under the Fifth Amendment and ensure due process of law by reforming long-standing civil forfeiture policy. Under current law, agencies like the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Department of Justice (DOJ) may take property suspected to be in connection with a crime without charging, let alone convicting, the property owner of a crime. The Federal Asset Forfeiture Fund collected more than $2 billion in 2013 from civil and criminal forfeitures policy.
"In a country founded on principles of due process and property rights, we should not be promoting a system where an individual's property may be seized without a finding of guilt. Reform to our civil asset forfeiture laws is necessary to ensure the federal government can no longer profit from the unjust seizure of property," explained Rep. Walberg.
H.R. 5212 was introduced in direct response to several recent stories involving innocent property owners having their property seized by federal officials. In Michigan, a longtime grocer, Terry Dehko, had his bank accounts seized by IRS because they suspected him of being a money launderer. The charges were never filed but Mr. Dehko had to prove that his money was not used in a criminal enterprise.
"This legislation provides commonsense reforms to restore the balance of power away from the government and back to protecting individual rights and due process. We cannot abide a system where citizens fear that law enforcement can seize, forfeit and profit from their property," Walberg stated.