In Michigan, one of the components of criminal prosecutions, especially related to drug charges, is civil forfeiture. Many defendants charged with offenses had their money and property seized even if they were found not guilty. With new legislation signed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer, the criminal defendant will now have a higher chance of protecting their assets.
The new legislation will prevent assets taken in suspected drug crimes from being forfeited unless the defendant is convicted or the value of the money and property is more than $50,000, excluding the cost of contraband. A conviction or guilty plea will not be required in instances where no one claims an interest in the property, the owner allows the forfeiture or a defendant has been charged but cannot be located or extradited to Michigan. The reason for the $50,000 threshold has been established due to accusations of more significant distribution cases. To gather insight on this law, we spoke to some of the top criminal defense lawyers in our state to obtain their commentary.
Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates and has created a firm that is known as the top in the state of Michigan. When asked his thoughts, Grabel stated, “Many times in these cases, our firm has taken over after the period of a forfeiture filing had passed. Our goals are not only to protect the freedom of the defendant but also to protect their economic interest and not to be restrained due to a lack of filing by a previous attorney. When we take on a client, we want to protect them in every way possible. The new law will afford us that opportunity.”