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House votes to limit forfeiture of assets in drug cases

The government would have a harder time taking ownership of property seized in drug investigations under legislation advancing in Michigan.

The state House on Tuesday voted 83-26 for the bill next headed to the Senate. It would prohibit the forfeiture of property worth less than $50,000 that is taken in drug cases unless the defendant is convicted, deported or relinquishes ownership.

The bill is the latest to address concerns about police taking cash, vehicles and assets from people not convicted of crimes. Prosecutors can permanently confiscate assets in civil court thought to be associated with criminal activity.

In 2015, Michigan enacted laws requiring agencies that seize or forfeit property to make detailed reports to state police and raising the standard for civil forfeiture to one of clear and convincing evidence.

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