Governor Gretchen Whitmer has signed a new law that says police departments cannot keep assets seized as part of an investigation unless the owner is convicted of a crime.
Prosecutors have used civil actions to seize assets as part of a strategy to combat drug dealing. But critics says the seizures violate due process rights.
Governor Whitmer is a former county prosecutor who says it was a solution that became a problem.
“I know that many of our citizens have not been treated fairly, or offered the protections that they deserve, and that changes today," said Gov. Whitmer.
The protections do not apply in cases where police seize more than $50,000 cash from a suspected criminal.
Attorney General Dana Nessel is a former assistant prosecutor. Nessel supports the changes. She said seizing the assets of people who were suspected but never convicted of a crime is unfair.
“And, quite honestly, created bad relationships between law enforcement and the communities that they served, and I think those injustices will now be made right," said Nessel.
Both Whitmer and Nessel are Democrats. Republican state Senator Pete Lucido was a sponsor of the legislation.
“And I’ll say it over and over again, no one should profit from criminal activity, but to take somebody’s goods, and deprive them before there’s been due process delivered is an injustice to the system," said Sen. Lucido.