Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Bill in Nevada Would Eliminate 'Policing for Profit' Incentive

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Nevada lawmakers introduced a bill that would reform the state’s civil asset forfeiture procedures, a move proponents say would end "policing for profit" practices that violate due process rights.

Nevada allows law enforcement to seize an individual's property without charging or convicting them of a crime. Current law also allows agencies to keep a portion of the property seized, a practice called "policing for profit."

Assembly Bill 420 would require a conviction for forfeiture proceedings and would award forfeiture proceeds to the State Permanent School Fund instead of to the law enforcement agency that seized the property. The bill is supported by Assemblyman Steve Yeager, D-Las Vegas.

The Nevada Policy Research Institute said in a statement the bill would remove the incentive to "policing for profit."

"For decades, forfeiture laws have upended the due-process rights of ordinary Nevadans," said Daniel Honchariw, a senior policy analyst for Nevada Policy. "It’s well past time for legislation of this type."

Several states across the country have passed similar civil asset forfeiture reforms. The U.S. Supreme Court last month ruled unanimously that the Constitution’s ban on excessive fines applies to state and local government agencies seizing property.

The Institute for Justice, a libertarian public interest law firm, gave Nevada a "D-" rating in its 2015 study "Policing for Profit," ranking it 23rd nationally.

Civil asset forfeiture reform is also supported by left-leaning groups like ACLU of Nevada.

"The Legislature should join the broad, bipartisan reform movement sweeping the nation and restore the due process rights of all Nevadans by passing AB420," Honchariw added.

Nevada Public Radio reported that police in Nevada seized $1.6 million in property last year, according to the Department of Justice.