ARKANSAS Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2019

On March 18, 2019, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson signed a new law that will require police and prosecutors to obtain a criminal conviction in most cases before they can seize someone's property. The law is titled "The Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2019.” The Act passed the Arkansas Senate and House by a unanimous vote and will become effective 90 days after the current session adjourns.

The new law will require prosecutors to obtain a criminal conviction to forfeit property. Exceptions to the criminal conviction include if the property owner is deceased, deported, flees the jurisdiction or fails to challenge the forfeiture, or if the property is abandoned.

Under current civil asset forfeiture laws, police can seize property suspected of being connected to criminal activity, even if the owner is never charged or convicted of a crime.

The proceeds of asset forfeiture are often split between local prosecutors' offices and police departments. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that state law enforcement agencies rake in tens of millions of dollars a year through asset forfeiture. More than half of all U.S. states have passed some form of asset forfeiture reform over the past decade in response to bipartisan concerns.

On February 20, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 9-0 decision that the Eighth Amendment's protections against excessive fines and fees applied to the states. The case, Timbs v. Indiana, challenged the seizure of a $42,000 Land Rover—four times the maximum fine for the drug crime that resulted in the seizure.

Below are links pertaining to the topic and response to the Timbs v Indiana decision.