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Ducey signs legislation making it tougher for cash to be seized

(AP Photo/Chase Stevens, File)

PHOENIX — Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation Wednesday that should protect civilians’ rights more, his office proclaims.

The legislation will make it tougher for prosecutors and law enforcement to seize cash and property from people suspected of a crime.

“Reforms have been needed in this area for some time,” said Ducey in a release. “As public servants, we are entrusted with not only protecting public safety, but also the rights guaranteed to every citizen of this great state and nation. Today’s important legislation strikes an appropriate balance between enabling law enforcement to do their jobs while upholding civil liberties. I commend Representative Eddie Farnsworth for his work on this legislation, and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle for supporting it.

“This bill will allow law enforcement to take appropriate action against drug cartels and other criminal enterprises, while ensuring citizens do not have their property seized without proper due process.”

The bill has support from diverse groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona and the state chapter of Americans for Prosperity.

The measure will change Arizona’s civil asset forfeiture laws to require prosecutors to prove property was involved in a crime by “clear and convincing” evidence, a step above the current standard.

Opponents say the changes would cause logistical issues for county boards of supervisors and county attorneys. They also criticize the bill’s further standard of proof and the claim that excessive seizures take place.

The governor’s approval comes after recent inquiries into whether officials in Pinal County have misused seizure profits and a guilty plea from a former top Pima County official to misusing RICO funds in February.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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