forfeiture reform

Florida: House Passes Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Unanimously

AssetForfeiture[FreedomWorks]

Unanimous Vote in House Follows Last Week’s Unanimous Support in the Senate

Coalition of Reform Advocates and Law Enforcement Urge Gov. Scott to Sign Into Law

The Florida House of Representatives on Tuesday unanimously passed SB 1044, reforming Florida’s “Contraband Forfeiture Act,” sending the legislation to Gov. Rick Scott’s desk for a signature. Last week the Senate passed the legislation, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Brandes, in a unanimous 38–0 vote.

The bipartisan unanimity of passage in both chambers was driven by a diverse and disparate coalition of law enforcement and reform advocates, including the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), which retained attorney Ron Book to lobby on their behalf for the legislation, the Florida Sheriff’s Association, the Florida Association of Police Chiefs, Americans for Forfeiture Reform, the Florida ACLU, the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Institute for Justice, the James Madison Institute and the Grover Norquist-led, Americans for Tax Reform.

“This bill sends a powerful message to Floridians: the government cannot seize your property without making an arrest," said Sen. Jeff Brandes, the author and prime Senate sponsor of the legislation. "These sweeping reforms to civil forfeiture institute major consumer protections and prevent abuses against the property rights of Floridians. I hope the Governor will join both houses of the Florida legislature and support these critical reforms by signing this bill into law.”

Colorado: Sensible Asset Forfeiture Proposal Fails In Senate

AssetForfeiture[FreedomWorks]

Advocates Reminded of the Often Undeserved Sway of Law Enforcement

This week an asset forfeiture reform proposal died in Colorado’s Senate Judiciary Committee. SB 006 aimed to join other states and the recent federal effort to curb the intrusive, arguably unconstitutional and financially distorted incentive practice of civil asset forfeiture.

State law provides people due process protections from state authorities seizing their property. However, local and state police often circumvent state law by turning seized assets over to federal authorities who then liquidate those assets and return the proceeds to local law enforcement.

SB 006 would have provided constitutional protections in the case of joint state and federal asset forfeiture proceedings -- requiring a conviction, mandating a pre-trial hearing and only allowing forfeiture proceedings for assets valued over $50,000. The bill attempted to deter frivolous and subjective forfeiture efforts by law enforcement.

The Drug Policy Alliance, ACLU of Colorado, Colorado Criminal Defense Institute, Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition and many local lawyers, victims and like-minded civilians testified in favor of the bill.

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