Institute for Justice

"Policing for Profit" Report

A report on civil asset forfeiture laws in each state gives Utah a "D-" rating, clearly indicating
that significant reform is needed to protect property rights in our state.

Your petition will be sent to:

Gary Herbert, Governor of Utah

Don't violate property rights

Because of the "war on drugs"

Civil asset forfeiture is a tool used by government to take property from a person who hasn’t been charged with—let alone convicted of—a crime. Proponents say it’s necessary to fight the "war on drugs." Critics say it’s legalized theft.

In 2000, Utah voters overwhelmingly passed a ballot initiative designed to limit forfeiture. Since then, government agencies have repeatedly attempted to undermine the property rights protections voters put in place.

Earlier this year, Representative Brian Greene attempted to pass legislation that would limit this power. House Bill 22 passed the House of Representatives overwhelmingly, but stalled in a Senate committee. The effort to protect property rights from civil asset forfeiture has routinely been opposed by government lawyers and law enforcement executives whose agencies financially benefit from the property seized by the government.

Most people don’t fight back. YOU CAN FIGHT BACK!

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The History of Forfeiture in Utah

November 2000, Utah voters pass Initiative B by 69% to 31%.

The initiative protects property rights and due process by restricting civil asset forfeiture and making it harder for the government to take property from people not suspected of a crime. Among other reforms, the initiative sent the proceeds of forfeiture to the general education fund, rather than allowing it to return to officers—thereby eliminating a financial incentive to take property.

February 2003, Senator Valentine sponsors forfeiture legislation

Senate Bill 31, written by the Attorney General's office, was designed to allow police to once again receive the proceeds of the property they received. Backlash from the senator's constituents led him to abandon the bill.

February 2004, Senator Buttars sponsors forfeiture legislation

Senate Bill 175 allowed the revenue from forfeiture to indirectly flow to police agencies in exchange for tightening a few provisions that purported to help protect property rights. The controversial proposal was very divisive but narrowly passed.

Legislators were told that this was a superficial bill reorganizing forfeiture law, when in fact the 50+ page bill undermined the 2000 initiative in several key areas. The bill passed unanimously, with legislators clueless as to what they had done.

March 2013, Attorney General's Office deceives Utah legislature

December 2013, Libertas Institute issues report highlighting what happened

February 2014, legislation proposed by Libertas Institute unanimously passes

Senate Bill 256 aimed to reverse the deceptive changes and passed the legislature unanimously.

An initiative of Libertas Institute

In Utah, the government can legally take your property without charging you with a crime.

It’s called civil asset forfeiture. And according to a recent poll, 86% of Utah voters oppose it. Unfortunately, the Utah legislature failed to pass a bill this year that would have restricted this power and protected property rights.

Do you agree that this is wrong? Sign the petition to tell lawmakers that police and prosecutors should only take property from criminals!

Reform Civil Asset Forfeiture

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Your state senator
(determined based on your address)

Your state representative
(determined based on your address)

The government claims that this tool is needed in order to stop drug cartels. They're wrong.

 The Numbers 

Check out the graph to the left. Most forfeiture cases involve low-value property or cash. If you had $3,000 taken, would you pay $8,000 to hire an attorney to get it back? Clearly not—and that’s why the government is able to obtain so much property.

"We strongly oppose the forfeiture of private property
from innocent owners."

This Doesn't Affect Criminal Asset Forfeiture

Sign This Petition

Police and prosecutors can still confiscate property from criminals through asset forfeiture—criminal, not civil. This means that innocent property owners would have greater protections, and criminals would still risk losing the property they have obtained through the proceeds of their illegal actions. Win win.

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2,665 supporters / 2,000 target

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There is still  much more that needs to happen to fix forfeiture law in Utah. Tell politicians that property rights should be respected.

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