Sen. Kyle Loveless (R-Oklahoma City) today filed the Personal Asset Protection Act, SB 838, a bill aimed at restricting a practice known as civil asset forfeiture. This is a process which allows the government to seize cash, vehicles and other property used or gained from the commission of a crime without any charges being filed.
“The issue with the current law is that the owner is presumed guilty until they can prove their innocence,” Loveless said. “In America, we are proud of our tradition of innocent until proven guilty. Unfortunately, that’s not the case with civil asset forfeiture. Under current law, the state simply needs to establish a mere suspicion that the property is involved in illegal activity and the owner doesn’t have to be charged with a crime.”
This legislation gives much-needed reforms to the current process including conviction and ‘clear and convincing’ evidence that the property is related to criminal activity.
Sen. Loveless filed the bill with only weeks left in this year’s legislative session.
“I wanted to file the bill as soon as possible to get a jump start on this important issue,” said Loveless. “Many Oklahomans are losing their property without due process and they don’t have the resources or will to fight a system stacked against them.”
Sen. Loveless is holding an interim study to take an in-depth look at how civil asset forfeiture works in Oklahoma and how abuse happens. He is seeking input from citizens who have been affected by civil asset forfeiture abuse.
“I’m asking for some help from Oklahomans and members of the media who believe they have been a victim of this simply un-American process,” Loveless said. “This is something that is happening in states across the country, so it would be naïve to believe that it could not happen in Oklahoma. I look forward to hearing from those who have been affected so we can come together to create a solution to this growing problem.”