Civil asset forfeiture has become a controversial issue in the United States. As it stands, law enforcement officials have the authority to seize assets such as cash when they have a reasonable cause to suspect that the asset in question has been involved in illegal activity.
The controversy stems from the fact that police do not have to prove anything to seize the assets in many states. Even more worryingly, the funds gained from the seizure are redirected back into the police force, which leads many to accuse the practice of being a form of corruption.
Alabama has been known to have a poor transparency rating when it comes to asset seizure. However, in the last few months, change has started to come about. In June 2019, a new bill, the Alabama Forfeiture Information Reporting Act, was put into law.
What requirements does the new law put in place?
The new law means that agencies have the legal obligation to report the date, description and location of the asset seizure that was made. They must also provide information about the arrests made in connection to the seizure and the amount of proceeds received through asset and cash seizure.
What is the purpose of this new transparency law?
All data collected by this new transparency law will be aggregated into an annual report by the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center Commission. It is hoped that greater transparency will reduce corruption associated with asset seizures.
If you have recently been subject to a cash seizure in Alabama, you may be feeling confused and frustrated by the law. You should take action to assess your options if you want to regain your assets.