This statement was delivered at a press conference at the Ohio Statehouse on Tuesday, September 29 unveiling House Bill 347, which reforms the Buckeye State’s civil asset forfeiture laws.
FreedomWorks is proud to offer our support for House Bill 347, and we thank Representative McColley for introducing this important legislation and raising awareness to civil asset forfeiture, an egregious form of government overreach.
Momentum is building in state legislatures across the country to reform forfeiture laws that fail to protect innocent property owners. Already, New Mexico and Montana have enacted legislation that eliminate civil asset forfeiture by requiring a criminal conviction. Other states, such as Pennsylvania and Michigan, are considering reforms that would either require a criminal conviction or offer meaningful protections for innocent property owners.
Improvements must be made in Ohio’s forfeiture laws to ensure that the burden of proof falls on prosecutors before seized property can be forfeited to the government. House Bill 347 accomplishes this by requiring a criminal conviction — that is, proof beyond a reasonable doubt — before property can be subject to forfeiture. It also improves procedures for innocent owners and places limitations on how forfeiture proceeds can be used by law enforcement.
Importantly, House Bill 347 seeks to rein in abuse of federal forfeiture laws through the Department of Justice’s Equitable Sharing Program by prohibiting forfeiture unless the value of the seized property exceeds $50,000.
FreedomWorks plans to mobilize our community of almost 7 million liberty-minded activists to support House Bill 347. We urge state lawmakers from both parties to support this effort as it moves through the Ohio Legislature.