Oklahoma State Senator Kyle Loveless is pushing new legislation that would add much needed reform to the current Oklahoma civil asset forfeiture laws. Loveless, who represents district 45, was prompted to pursue reform laws after state audits found members of the DA’s office were using seized money to pay for rent and student loans.
Under current Oklahoma civil asset forfeiture laws, law enforcement can take and seize money and property without any sort of criminal charges. It is then the owner’s responsibility to prove in court that the money or property is not connected to criminal activity.
If the money is not contested the money stays with the seizing agency and that agency is then lawfully allowed to spend that money for law enforcement purposes. Senator Loveless is claiming that agencies are stretching the definition of “law enforcement purposes.”
Scott Roland, Oklahoma County’s First Assistant District Attorney, opposes Loveless’s bill insisting that abuses are extremely rare. Roland claims police need to be able to seize money without charging people because drug cartels rarely travel with money and drugs at the same time. This makes it hard to seize money from a suspected drug trafficker who is traveling with drug money but no drugs.
“You have this large amount of money, which anyone in my business knows is a key indicator of illegal activity, and then you have them saying they don’t know anything about it, but it’s not theirs,” Roland says. “What would you have the police do? Pack it back up in the car in the hidden compartment and send it on back to the cartel? Or send it on back to al-Qaida or ISIS?”
Loveless is asking that whenever civil asset forfeiture happens, charges must be filed against the owner. The Department of Justice already adopted this practice earlier this year. These changes would create checks and balances in the criminal justice system that are absolutely necessary.
If you have been involved in an Oklahoma civil asset forfeiture case and need help defending your rights, call an experienced lawyer who is trained in civil asset forfeiture. Jacqui Ford recently spoke on Oklahoma civil asset forfeiture reform at the Oklahoma State Capitol. She is knowledgeable in Oklahoma civil asset forfeiture laws, and will not let the system take advantage of you.