Changing Florida’s Asset Forfeiture Laws


Asset forfeiture is the legal tool cops use to seize and then sell items and cash used in criminal activities. We’ve written before about how this process is used and sometimes abused. Now two Florida lawmakers have started efforts to change the way Florida’s asset forfeiture laws work.

State Representative Randolph Bracy has filed a bill (HB 215) that changes Florida’s asset forfeiture laws significantly. The significant points of the bill include:

  1. The state doesn’t get title to the property (cash, car, etc.) until the person is actually convicted of a crime, or the state wins a forfeiture proceeding;
  2. The police can’t seize personal property without a seizure warrant signed by a judge;
  3. If the personal property was in a house or apartment, it has to stay where it is until the criminal case or forfeiture proceeding is over.

State Senator Jeff Brandes has also said he will be filing a bill changing the asset forfeiture laws. While that bill hasn’t yet been filed, he has indicated it will require that the any money that results from asset seizure will go to charity or the state’s general revenue fund, instead into the police agency’s coffers.

It’s clear that the asset forfeiture laws need changing. While these two efforts at reforming asset forfeiture may not succeed, it’s at least a step forward.