Lee questions witness at hearing on asset forfeiture, property seizures by police

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Sen. Mike Lee participated in a Senate Judiciary hearing Wednesday titled “The Need to Reform Asset Forfeiture,” which provided an opportunity to discuss the problems with civil asset forfeiture and consider reforms to these laws.

Federal law currently allows law enforcement officers to keep property they seize from those who are committing federal crimes. This practice, known as Civil Asset Forfeiture, is an important law enforcement tool to make sure that crime does not pay.

However, because these laws allow police departments to keep the money that they seize, they create incentives for officers to focus on self-funding, even at the risk of violating constitutional rights.

Lee delivered the following opening statement prior to questioning witness Darpana Sheth, attorney for the Institute of Justice:

The Constitution states that no person shall ‘be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.’ Despite this protection, the testimony today and recent news reports suggest that Due Process is often ignored when it comes to Civil Asset Forfeiture.

While we all agree that crime should not pay, federal forfeiture laws have enabled and incentivized law enforcement practices that threaten our liberty. That’s why I am a cosponsor of the FAIR Act with my colleague Rand Paul.  I look forward to working with my fellow legislators to eliminate the profit incentive that forfeiture creates and to adopt procedures that better protect our constitutional rights.

See Lee’s full opening statement and question to the judiciary here:

See Lee’s question on returning the burden of proof to the federal government here:

Lee is a co-sponsor of Sen. Rand Paul’s Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration Act of 2015, FAIR Act, which eliminates the profit incentive for law enforcement officers and adopts procedures—such as notice and hearing rights, the right to an attorney, and higher burden of proof—that will better protect the rights of innocent property owners.

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Submitted by the Offices of Sen. Mike Lee

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10 Comments

  • sagemoon April 17, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    Oh…my…gosh! Another rare moment I like what Lee is doing.

    • Curtis April 17, 2015 at 4:04 pm

      I agree. Lee finally earning his keep

  • Brian April 17, 2015 at 1:46 pm

    I’m SO glad they’re shedding light on this. Civil Asset Forfeiture (aka city, county, state and federal government agencies stealing for profit) is a huge problem right now. The police seize stuff for all sorts of reasons, the IRS seizes deposits just because there are multiple deposits below the $10,000 reporting limit (even when that’s just the amount of money the business generates on a daily basis), etc. It is massively abused, and when it happens there is essentially no recourse for the victims. Before you reply back that I’m just anti-government, maybe get informed on this issue and read up on the lives of normal, honest people being affected by it. https://www.google.com/search?q=civil+asset+forfeiture+abuse

  • native born new mexican April 17, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    Good for him and Rand Paul. This activity is nothing but criminal theft of the worst kind. New Mexico just UNANIMOUSLY( Democrats and Republicans 100% voted for it) passed a law A. requiring there to be a criminal conviction in court before any assets can be seized and B. all the money, assets, etc. will to go into the state general fund and not a penny to law enforcement or the courts. This is one time I am proud of my state. Way to go! Utah legislators are you paying attention? It is your turn next. Do the honest and fair thing like you are told to do in your church meetings. Put a stop to this very evil asset forfeiture crime.

  • ladybugavenger April 17, 2015 at 4:50 pm

    I’m ant corruption Brian, so you won’t hear me call you anti government 😉 if there’s a corrupt part of a government well than by all means call me, anti corrupt government!

  • ladybugavenger April 17, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    *anti

    • Free Parking April 20, 2015 at 4:28 pm

      I know you’re anti Mexican and I know you blame the country of Mexico for all your problems

  • beentheredonethat April 17, 2015 at 11:28 pm

    It is SO ironic how this state is so pro republican and at the same time SO SO SO pro handout. SO anti drug but the biggest anti depressant/ painkiller using state in the nation, if not the world. Amazing.

    • Free Parking April 20, 2015 at 4:31 pm

      You got that right all these whacked drug addicts running around loose. but according to the parents they should not be held personally responsible for their stupidity

    • Looneybugavenger April 20, 2015 at 6:35 pm

      BEENTHERE. Oh absolutely I couldn’t of said it any better total drug addict environment and no personal responsibility for it and it’s always somebody else’s fault

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