Civil asset forfeiture reform passes the Ohio Senate

a href="" target="_blank">Some good news out of Ohio, if you believe in due process and property rights. The state House and Senate have now both passed a bill that will limit the ability of police to confiscate the private property of people not convicted of crimes through the process known as civil forfeiture.

Ohio law enforcement officials couldn't keep cash or property seized from someone without first filing criminal charges against them, under a bill approved Thursday by the Ohio Senate....Currently, law enforcement can seize and keep cash and personal property on suspicion that a crime was committed. Conservative and liberal organizations lobbied lawmakers to eliminate the practice, which they said fattened local coffers at the expense of due process for the suspect.

Passage was unanimous. The bill now goes back to the House, which must agree to the Senate's reduction (from $25,000 to $15,000) of what would become the minimum amount that law enforcement can seize through criminal forfeiture. This number is significantly lower, but combined with the requirement to file criminal charges, it will at least prevent potential shakedowns (there are many, many anecdotes out there) of people traveling with a few hundred or a few thousand dollars in cash based on mere suspicion. Also positive: That amount will be indexed to inflation.

The bill would also limit police departments from making cases federal and coordinating with the Justice Department to circumvent state rules on forfeitures — something many departments across the nation have done in order to defeat state-level reform efforts.

Victims of civil forfeiture are usually required to prove that the money or property seized was not crime-related in order to get it back — a standard that turns the burden of proof on its head.