A company whose employee embezzles money has limited options for recovering its losses. Often, a company must rely on law enforcement to seize the employee’s assets before the employee can dissipate all available funds. A new law in Florida, however, will make law enforcement’s seizure of assets much more difficult and will likely result in a decrease of available resources for recovery.
On April 1, 2016, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a bill into law that dramatically reforms the state’s asset forfeiture laws, making it more difficult for law enforcement to seize and forfeit assets of a person suspected of having committed a crime. The new law requires a suspect to be arrested before law enforcement may seize most assets. Moreover, the law enforcement agency initiating a seizure will have to pay a $1,000 filing fee and post a $1,500 bond. Lastly, prosecutors will have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that that property was linked to a crime in order to make forfeiture permanent.
Florida is not the only state to have passed sweeping forfeiture reform. Last year, New Mexico passed a bill that gives the state some of the strongest protections in the country against wrongful seizures. Furthermore, Florida and New Mexico are not likely the last states to pass asset forfeiture reform laws. Lawmakers in California, Alaska, Hawaii, Ohio, Nebraska, and Maryland are already considering similar bills that will dramatically change how companies may recover assets taken by their employees.