House Bill 115
152nd General Assembly (Present)
House Public Safety & Homeland Security 4/6/23
Committee Hearing takes place within twelve legislative days.
AN ACT TO AMEND TITLES 11 AND 16 RELATING TO CIVIL ASSET FORFEITURE.
This Act does all of the following: Requires a conviction before forfeiture. (plea of guilty or no contest, conviction, or dismissal because of completion of a diversion program all count) Puts the burden on the state to prove all facts by clear and convincing evidence. Requires the state to prove by clear and convincing evidence that a non-defendant owner knew about or consented to the unlawful activity before the property may be forfeit. Strikes the presumption that cash with trace amount of drugs on it is presumed to be drug proceeds. Strikes the presumption that money that is in proximity to controlled substances is drug proceeds. The state can still forfeit money if they have other evidence or circumstances that show it is drug proceeds. Prohibits the use of the civil asset forfeiture proceeding for cash in any amount less that $1,000. Changes the process so there is always a hearing before forfeiture. Under current law, there is only a hearing if an owner affirmatively requests one be held. Requires the court to conduct a proportionality analysis prior to ordering a forfeiture – i.e., is the value of the property sought to be forfeit in line with the gravity of the crime. Requires the State to pay reasonable attorney fees to a prevailing party in a forfeiture proceeding. Directs forfeiture proceeds into the General Fund, rather than SLEAF to eliminate the perception that law enforcement might pursue a forfeiture for personal gain. Retains SLEAF and the process of application and distribution, but only where the General Assembly funds it in the regular appropriations process. Makes changes to Title 11 provisions relating to vehicle forfeitures to align with the Title 16 process and the same new procedural protections. Prohibits directing seized property to federal agencies for forfeiture and equitable sharing except for currency in excess of $100,000. Requires the Attorney General to annualy compile and publish a report regarding the number and type of forfeiture cases, case outcomes, and demographic data on persons whose property is seized pursuant to civil forfeiture laws. Directs the Office of Defense Services to provide representation in forfeiture proceedings to a defendant they represent in a related criminal matter.
Takes effect upon being signed into law