Introduced in 2016, Virginia House Bill 48 proposed civil forfeiture reforms which would raise the burden of proof required for law enforcement agencies to seize property related to criminal activity. Civil forfeiture has grown in recent decades to deprive innocent property owners of their belongings, often due to connections between the property seized and persons accused of using the property illegally without the owners’ consent. Additionally, with a burden of proof much lower than the standard that must be met for a criminal conviction, civil forfeiture as it stands now risks depriving property owners of their possessions despite a lack of sufficient evidence of guilt. This Comment presents a brief history of civil asset forfeiture in the United States, describes current federal and Virginia law on the subject, summarizes the components of House Bill 48 and concludes by arguing in favor of civil asset reforms like those seen in H.B. 48.

Document Type

Response or Comment

Publication Date