Herod: Following the money trail when police seize suspects’ property

The Denver Post: Asset forfeiture is a legitimate government function. The state of Colorado has a right to confiscate the fruits and instruments of crimes. No person convicted should profit from crime.

But what happens to those assets when a person is not convicted of a crime or charges aren’t even brought against the property owner? What happens when the government cannot prove that the property owner participated in, condoned or even knew about the criminal activity associated with the property? What if there was no criminal activity at all?

For those innocent people whose property is seized, legally regaining their property is notoriously difficult and expensive, with cost sometimes exceeding the value of the property. Civil forfeiture laws stack the deck where law enforcement agencies always win and innocent people lose.

Policymakers, like my colleagues in the legislature, must safeguard Coloradans’ rights to property and a fair trial.

Achieving both goals is why Republican Rep. Stephen Humphrey, Democratic Sen. Daniel Kagan, Republican Sen. Tim Neville and I introduced House Bill 1313 earlier this month. We have the bipartisan support of 40 colleagues in the House and Senate. The bill will be heard in the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday and is facing much opposition.

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