Dannel Malloy, the governor of Connecticut, recently signed HB 7146 into law. This new law will prevent law enforcement from permanently confiscating property under civil forfeiture laws unless there is a criminal conviction in the case.
Guilty Verdict, Plea Bargain or Dismissal from Finishing a Pretrial Diversion Program
Connecticut is now the 14th state to require a guilty verdict, plea bargain or dismissal from finishing a pretrial diversion program for civil forfeiture. If prosecutors are not able to secure a conviction, the government must return the confiscated property to the owner.
The bill had endorsements from the Connecticut chapter of the ACLU and the Yankee Institute for Public Policy. The bill also passed both the Senate and the House without a "no" vote. According to the senior legislative counsel for the Institute of Justice, “Civil forfeiture is one of the most serious assaults on Americans’ private property rights. The bill is a solid first step to ensure that innocent people do not lose their property to this use of 17th Century admiralty law applied to the 21st Century war on drugs.”
Over $17.8 Million Generated in Forfeitures Between 2009 and 2016
The Reason Foundation and the Institute for Justice reports that prosecutors and police generated over $17.8 million in revenue from forfeitures between 2009 and 2016. Almost two-thirds of that amount was seized without the owner being convicted of a crime.
There are some defects in the law, though. Prosecutors and police can collect 69.5 percent of the forfeited property proceeds. That means there is a strong incentive to search out cases that have a high payout. In addition, there is no public oversight when it comes to how the forfeiture money is spent. Maine avoids this by sending forfeiture proceeds to the general funds. Colorado and Arizona have laws requiring agencies to detail how forfeiture proceeds are spent.
Have You Been Charged with a Crime and Had Your Property Seized?
If you have had property forfeited because of your alleged involvement in a criminal case, you have another reason to fight your charges. An experienced, local attorney can help you learn more about legal options when it comes to forfeited property and your criminal case.
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