Only On 9: State Lawmakers Share Ideas At Civil Asset Forfeiture Conference

Thursday, July 28th 2016, 9:52 pm

State lawmakers from all over the country are meeting in Indianapolis to exchange ideas. One of the topics, a controversial bill by an Oklahoma Senator on the topic of civil asset forfeiture.

Under civil asset forfeiture, police can seize money and property without making an arrest and without a warrant as long as they have probable cause to believe what they're seizing is tied to a crime.

Last legislative session, Senator Kyle Loveless was not allowed to discuss his plans for civil asset forfeiture with Oklahoma legislators.

2/24/16 Related Story: Newly Proposed Civil Asset Forfeiture Bill Won't Be Debated

Thursday, Senator Loveless shared his ideas with legislators from all over the country at the American Legislative Exchange Council in Indianapolis. He said law enforcement should have certain guidelines.

"We've seen innocent people's property being taken. And it is a tool that is being used by law-enforcement I just sometimes it goes to four and I believe sometimes innocent people stuff gets taken up,” said Senator Loveless.

Loveless plans to pitch a bill next legislative session requiring a criminal conviction for the state to seize money. He is fashioning his bill after laws in other states.

"Several states had law enforcement support the reforms and I'm gonna be basically taking those bills to say why are they supporting these other states but not in Oklahoma,” said Senator Loveless.

Attorney Lee McGrath works with the institute for justice, an organization that helped a Christian rock band get back $53 that was improperly seized near Tulsa. The money was to be used to help build an orphanage in Berma. McGrath supports Loveless' plan.

"No one acquitted of a crime in Oklahoma found not guilty should lose his property because of a complicated civil forfeiture process,” said McGrath.

"Oklahomans believe that you know you're innocent till proven guilty in whether it yourself or your property,” said Senator Loveless.

Last session, State Senator Anthony Sykes refused to let the Loveless bill be heard in committee so lawmakers could debate it. He wouldn’t answer questions about why and he has not responded to our request for a comment Thursday.

7/27/16 Related Story: Joint Police Team Defends Civil Asset Forfeiture In OK