The Maze Legal Group is a law firm located in Wayne County with offices in Downtown Detroit, Livonia, and Romulus, Michigan. William Maze has been a lawyer since 1996, and he is a prominent criminal defense lawyer with a national reputation in drunk driving defense, FOIA litigation, and cases involving firearms. In connection with his criminal law practice, Mr. Maze has handled several forfeiture cases.
Several years ago, the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office began illegally seizing vehicles that were driven by presumably innocent motorists. Although the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office policy was clearly contrary to the statutory provisions, the prosecutors began making demands for $900 and $1,800 settlement offers prior to conviction. Mr. Maze was on the front lines of that battle, and he won several drunk driving cases during the early stages of that policy.
With each year, police departments have seen their budgets decrease, and this has enticed several municipal police agencies to look for supplemental income. Drug forfeitures for simple possession, including car seizures that are absolutely illegal, have risen remarkably. Mr. Maze has been battling several of these matters as they crop up, working to help clients win back their property.
When medical marijuana laws passed in Michigan, police departments immediately began to use asset forfeiture to thwart implementation of the law. Literally walking into homes and seizing guns, tools and vehicles, police figured to undermine confidence in the medical marijuana laws while profiting at the expense of patients and caregivers. In many instances where caregivers were determined to have too many plants, police tacked on felony firearm challenges that result in mandatory two-year prison terms for a convicted caregiver, even if the caregiver believed in good faith that he or she was in compliance with the Michigan medical marijuana laws.
Meanwhile, a few of the most outrageous forfeiture cases in Wayne County have made national news. In 2008, 130 people attending “Funk Night” at the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit had their cars seized because the Institute did not obtain a liquor license. The only car that was not seized had been stolen. Everyone was expected to pay $900, with an anticipated revenue of $117,000.
All of these matters have culminated in an increased effort to challenge forfeiture laws and the widespread abuse that civil asset forfeiture has undergone in recent years throughout Wayne County. If you have been a victim of abusive police forfeiture, do not allow the government to trample your rights. Call our offices immediately for assistance.