Most people are familiar with the legal presumption that a person is considered innocent until proven guilty. Without this presumption, a person could easily face an unfair trial in which they don’t explain why they are innocent but rather why they aren’t guilty. Though it may not seem like it, trying to argue the latter of these two options is no easy endeavor.
But this is exactly what police here in Indiana, as well as across the nation, expect citizens to do when fighting civil asset forfeiture cases. For those who don’t know, civil asset forfeiture laws in our state allow police to seize property they believe may have been used in, or is related to, criminal activity. The theory behind forfeiture laws is that in order to stop crime, police must get rid of the assets helping to proliferate it.
Although Indiana’s civil asset forfeiture laws are considered relatively fair compared to other states, some argue Indiana police do not have a high enough standard of proof in forfeiture cases, which makes it easier for police to seize property in criminal investigations.
Much like in other states, Indiana residents can try to reclaim their seized property by petitioning the court. Unfortunately, this legal process is complicated and can leave plaintiffs feeling frustrated and overwhelmed. It’s because of this fact that we’d like our Indianapolis readers to know that people fighting forfeitures do have the right to an attorney and are encouraged to wield this right so as to ensure the best possible outcome for their case.
The Institute for Justice, “Indiana Forfeiture Law,” Scott Bullock, March 2010, Accessed Oct. 2, 2015
FindLaw, “Indiana Code – Chapter 1: Forfeiture of Property Used in Violation of Certain Criminal Statutes,” Accessed Oct. 2, 2015