Chairman Garrett and Rep. Cárdenas Introduce Bipartisan FAIR Act to Protect Americans from Unconstitutional Civil Asset Forfeitures

Sep 17, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC – Chairman Scott Garrett (R-NJ) and Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), Co-Chairman of the bipartisan Crime Prevention and Youth Development Caucus, today introduced H.R. 5502, the Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration (FAIR) Act, to protect Americans from having their property seized without the due process of law.  The FAIR Act makes a number of changes to civil asset forfeiture laws to restore the constitutional protections guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment.

“Most Americans assume that the government cannot take your things without due process, but it is happening," said Garrett.  "Under current law, federal, state and local police can seize your property unless you can prove you acquired it legally. This must change.  The FAIR Act will protect our constitutional rights and save American families from a costly and messy legal process to regain what is legally theirs.”

“Two principles that we as Americans hold dear are innocent until proven guilty; and that the government may not seize our property without just cause,” said Cárdenas.  “Satisfying a profit motive must never be the reason for law enforcement, and it certainly must never be allowed to support the seizure of personal property by those who we trust to protect and defend our nation and our Constitution.”

The FAIR Act would ensure that Americans are innocent until proven guilty by requiring the government to meet a higher legal standard before seizing an individual’s property.  This legislation would raise the standard to seize assets from a preponderance of evidence to a higher standard of clear and convincing evidence.  In addition, the FAIR Act would eliminate the practice of equitable sharing and eliminate all profit incentives by requiring that all funds seized by the federal government go into the general treasury fund. 

Click here for a one-page explanation of the bill, and click here for a section-by-section summary.

To read the Washington Post’s three-part series on civil asset forfeitures, click here.