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Published on Friday, January 20, 2017

Bill would change civil asset forfeiture law and impact law enforcement efforts statewide

Civil asset forfeiture allows law enforcement agencies to take possession of property when the property itself is illegal, was used to facilitate a crime, is proceeds from a crime, or was purchased with proceeds traceable to criminal activity. State law allows for forfeiture in numerous areas but most forfeiture is related to drug crimes.

Rep. Taylor’s (R-Sunnyside) HB 1016 would require a felony conviction prior to forfeiture and limit the property that may be forfeited to property that a court finds is directly involved in or derived from a felony offense. The bill was heard in the House Judiciary Committee on January 11.

AWC believes that asset forfeiture is a necessary law enforcement tool that helps take the profit out of crime. Also, criminal investigations and prosecutions do not always cleanly terminate with a court decision; suspects often abscond or take a plea deal. AWC is continuing to work with lawmakers to find suitable language. Click here to see a list of agencies with proceeds from drug crime-related asset forfeiture related.