SACRAMENTO, Ca. (Aug. 27, 2015) – Today, a power California Assembly Committee passed a bill that not only bolsters restrictions on state officials from seizing property without due process, but throws a wrench into federal efforts to do the same. Previously passed by the Senate, it moves one step closer to the Governor’s desk.
Introduced by Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), Senate Bill 443 (SB443) sets additional restrictions on the state to prevent abuses from civil asset forfeiture, a controversial practice that observers such as the Institute for Justice (IJ) have called ‘legal plunder.’
SB443 previously passed in the state Senate on June 3 by a resounding 38-1 vote. The Assembly Public Safety Committee passed it by a 7-0 vote in July. Today, the Appropriations committee passed it and it now moves on to 2nd and 3rd readings in the full state Assembly.
Although the bill does not ban civil asset forfeiture outright, SB443 provides some important restrictions. It requires state officials “to seek or obtain a criminal conviction for the unlawful manufacture or cultivation of any controlled substance or its precursors” before seizing assets. Notices would be required giving specific instructions to forfeiture victims about their right to receive a fair hearing to reclaim their lost property.
TAKING ON FEDERAL FORFEITURE
While focusing mostly on state and local actions, SB443 also contains provisions that stop federal-state collusion pertaining to civil asset forfeiture. It bars transfers of seized property to the federal government:
State or local law enforcement authorities shall not…