Press Releases

Press Releases

Issa, Colleagues Re-Introduce Legislation To Curb Civil Forfeiture Abuse

Press Release
Mar 29, 2017

Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) released the following statement after signing on as an original co-sponsor of bipartisan legislation to curb civil forfeiture abuse (The DUE PROCESS Act) introduced in the House of Representatives today by Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.).

The legislation was introduced the same day that the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General released a new report on asset forfeiture showing that since 2007, the DEA has taken $3.2 billion in cash from Americans never charged with a crime and that, according to the report, the Department of Justice "does not collect or evaluate the data necessary to know whether its seizures and forfeitures are effective, or the extent to which seizures present potential risks to civil liberties."  (Read more in the Washington Post here)

Congressman Darrell Issa: “In too many cases, civil forfeiture has wrongfully harmed innocent Americans through loss of property rights and due process. What was once intended to ensure drug dealers couldn't keep the fruits of their illegal activities has now become distorted by the government to permanently seize property from innocent Americans, often with little recourse or proof of wrongdoing.”

“The bill raises the burden of proof for the government, gives claimants the opportunity to quickly contest seizures, improves transparency, and makes many long-overdue improvements to help rein in instances of misuse. Forfeiture reform has quickly become one of our best opportunities for bipartisan achievement in criminal justice reform. I look forward to the swift passage of these important updates to protect due process."

Congressman Darrell Issa authored an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times arguing against civil forfeiture abuse last May. That piece is available here. He was also an original co-sponsor of the DUE PROCESS Act in the 114th Congress when it was first introduced.

Key components of the DUE PROCESS Act include:

  • Increasing the government’s burden of proof in civil asset forfeiture cases from “a preponderance of the evidence” to “clear and convincing” to help protect innocent victims
  • Granting a right to counsel for Americans in civil asset forfeiture proceedings
  • Allowing claimants to recover attorney’s fees in successful cases against government forfeiture
  • Cutting in half the notification time frame from 60 to 30 days of the time frame the government has to notify property owners that a seizure has taken place.
  • Requiring the government to notify property owners of the process by which they may contest a seizure including their right to a hearing and counsel.
  • Helping property owners get property back faster
  • Requiring the Inspector General to conduct a yearly audit on federal civil forfeitures to ensure they are being conducted within the letter and spirit of the law
  • Increasing transparency by creating a federal database on forfeitures in order to make information more readily available to the public, including a catalog of federal forfeitures to assist those whose property has been seized as well as details on the types of forfeitures being executed, the agencies involved, and logs of the conduct that lead to forfeited property.
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