Oklahoma: Law enforcement should note SCOTUS ruling

Concerns in Oklahoma about civil asset forfeiture have focused on the fact no conviction is needed before someone’s property can be seized and forfeited. If law enforcement officers have reason to believe property is to be used in a crime, they can hold it.

There have been unsuccessful legislative efforts to raise the legal threshold before cash or property could be taken and to require that someone be convicted of a crime before forfeiture proceedings could commence. Lawmakers did approve one change in 2016 allowing judges to award attorney fees to those whose assets are wrongly seized.

Attorney General Mike Hunter has said previous reform attempts involved “a lot of misinformation.” The issue hasn’t attracted much attention since then, although a bill introduced this year would require law enforcement agencies to complete annual reports, and make them publicly available, on property seized. The bill’s author says current law makes it tough to track asset forfeitures.