On Friday, the Maine Senate gave final approval to a bill that would reform the state’s asset forfeiture laws to require a criminal conviction in most cases, and also opt the state out of a federal asset forfeiture program known as “equitable sharing.” Rep. William Faulkingham (R-Winter Harbor) along with two fellow Republicans, four Democrats and a Libertarian, introduced House Bill 1521 (LD1521) on April 15. The legislation would require a criminal conviction before prosecutors could proceed with asset forfeiture in most cases. Passage of the bill would also effectively opt Maine out of a federal program that allows state and local police to get around more strict state asset forfeiture laws. This is particularly important in light of a policy directive issued in July 2017 by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions for the Department of Justice (DOJ) that remains in effect today. On June 17, the House passed LD1521 and the Senate followed suit the next day. The bill now moves to Gov. Janet Mills for her consideration. The Institute for Justice gives Maine’s asset forfeiture process a B+ grade because none of the proceeds go to law enforcement. But the IJ notes that “Maine’s law grade could be even higher if not for the state’s low standard of proof. Law enforcement may forfeit property by showing by a mere preponderance of the evidence that it is tied to a crime. In most cases, Maine law also puts the burden on innocent owners to prove that they had nothing to do with the alleged criminal activity with which their property has been associated.” #assetforfeiture #maine #libertarian #10thAmendment #constitution https://blog.tenthamendmentcenter.com/2021/06/to-the-governor-maine-bill-would-require-a-conviction-before-asset-forfeiture-opt-state-out-of-federal-program/
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