Forfeiture reform: new rules for New Mexico.

Author:Shackford, Scott
Position::Citings - Brief article

IN MARCH, the New Mexico legislature voted for major reforms of its asset forfeiture laws. The state had come under fire for abuse of the program, including a 2010 case in which cops pulled a couple of travelers over for a minor traffic violation and seized $17,000 in cash they were intending to use for a trip and home renovations.

The legislation, House Bill 560, ended any possible "civil" component of asset forfeiture. Police in New Mexico would still be able to seize property, but they would have to prove a crime actually happened in order to justify the taking. Furthermore, law enforcement agencies in the state would no longer be able to keep the proceeds for themselves. Any property seized would be auctioned off and all returns would go to the state's general fund.

This shift has two important consequences. First, it reduces the incentives for law enforcement agencies to look for reasons to seize property. Second, it ends the state's participation in the Department...

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