Massachusetts officials discuss Supreme Court ruling on property forfeiture

“I know of instances where a vehicle is stopped, the operator has a large amount of cash (no drugs or other contraband) and that money is seized,” Worcester defense attorney Peter Ettenberg said.

“Often it is difficult or impossible to get it returned,” Mr. Ettenberg said.

The Institute for Justice gives Massachusetts an “F” for its civil forfeiture laws, which the public interest law firm says are the worst in the country.

According to the Institute for Justice website: “Massachusetts law enforcement agents just need probable cause — the lowest possible standard of proof — to believe that property was involved in a crime in order to forfeit it.

“State law also places the burden on innocent owners to demonstrate their innocence or ignorance of any criminal activity associated with their seized property in order to recover it.