Thu., February 20, 2014 3:50pm (EST)

Police Get To Seize, And Keep, Your Property (Even If You're Innocent)
By Ellen Reinhardt
Updated: 5 months ago

ATLANTA  —  
A bill addressing civil forfeiture is currently under consideration.
A bill addressing civil forfeiture is currently under consideration.
A coalition of groups from the Atlanta Tea Party to the ACLU is calling on state lawmakers to reform Georgia’s civil forfeiture law.

Lee McGrath with the Institute for Justice says Georgia’s law allows police and prosecutors to seize and keep 100 percent of the property they seize, even if a person is found innocent of any crime. He says that needs to change “to ensure that law enforcement is not engaged in policing or prosecuting for profit.”

A bill addressing that issue is currently under consideration. H.B. 1 would require police and prosecutors to reveal what property is seized when someone is stopped for a crime. But McGrath with says that’s not enough.

“Unfortunately the law in Georgia, even after enactment of House Bill 1 will still mean that people who are found innocent in criminal court can still lose their property in civil court.”

McGrath says the law should go further, so there is no improper incentive for officers to seize property from innocent people.

The coalition wants lawmakers to give innocent property owners their day in court so they can get their property back.