Legislature(1993 - 1994)

04/25/1993 12:10 PM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
  HOUSE BILL NO. 188                                                           
       "An Act relating to forfeiture of certain property; and                 
       providing for an effective date."                                       
  Co-Chair  Larson  noted  that  HB  188 would  utilize  asset                 
  forfeiture as a tool for combating drugs and violent crimes.                 
  Attorney  General Cole  suggested  that page  7,  line 2  be                 
  amended  to  read, "did  not  know before  parting  with the                 
  property that the property would be  used in the manner that                 
  resulted in it being subject to  forfeiture."  He noted that                 
  present law  does  not allow  for the  forfeiture of  "real"                 
  property.   He emphasized that drugs are  produced and grown                 
  on "real" property.  He clarified, in response to a question                 
  by Co-Chair MacLean,  that the  amendment would prevent  the                 
  owner from forfeiture  of rental  property if  they did  not                 
  have  knowledge of  the crime.    Representative Grussendorf                 
  pointed out that the property can  still be seized until the                 
  owner proves his innocence.                                                  
  Attorney  General Cole  asserted that  the legislation  will                 
  curtail drug activity.   Co-Chair MacLean suggested  that on                 
  page 3,  line 16  "indictment" be  deleted and  "conviction"                 
  inserted.   Mr. Guaneli  observed that  other states  do not                 
  require  convictions.    He  noted  that conviction  is  not                 
  dependent on whether an act took place.                                      
  (Tape Change, HFC 93-126, Side 1).                                           
  Attorney General Cole continued to discuss the forfeiture of                 
  property for use in drug crimes.                                             
  Co-Chair MacLean  referred to page  6, lines 11  - 18.   She                 
  noted  that up  to 90  percent  of the  net value  of seized                 
  property could  be transferred to  one or  more agencies  or                 
  political subdivisions of  the state for use  in furtherance                 
  of   the   administration   of   justice.     Representative                 
  Grussendorf expressed  concern that transfers would be under                 
  the jurisdiction of  the commissioner  of the Department  of                 
  Public Safety.   Mr.  Guaneli discussed  procedures used  by                 
  federal  law enforcement  agencies.   Attorney  General Cole                 
  that the  federal government  currently takes  real property                 
  seized in state cases.                                                       
  Representative Brown  referred to testimony by Shelley Owens                 
  before  the  House  Judiciary  Committee.   She  noted  that                 
  forfeiture of a persons bank  account after indictment could                 
  eliminate  the  defendants  ability  to  obtain  independent                 
  defense  counsel  which  would increase  the  burden  on the                 
  Public Defender.  Representative Brown quoted Ms. Shelley as                 
  saying,  "one-half  of   people  who  lose  property   under                 
  forfeiture laws have not  been charged with a crime,  and 80                 
  percent of  people who lose  their property  don't or  can't                 
  contest the forfeitures."                                                    
  Attorney General Cole emphasized that, if HB 188 is adopted,                 
  the state would  initiate proceedings rather  than deferring                 
  all drug forfeitures to the federal government.                              
  Co-Chair MacLean referred to page 1, lines 8  - 10, CSHB 188                 
  (JUD).  Attorney General Cole  stressed that before property                 
  is forfeited the owner must know  that the property is being                 
  used  in  an illegal  drug  activity.   Representative Brown                 
  argued  that  the burden  of proof  is  on the  person whose                 
  property  is  being  seized.    Mr. Guaneli  clarified  that                 
  property can be seized before guilt is ascertained.                          
  Representative  Foster  asked  if  HB  188 would  go  beyond                 
  federal  forfeiture  laws.    He  noted  that  grand  juries                 
  generally support indictments.   He did not  support seizure                 
  on indictment.                                                               
  Representative  Brown  noted   the  difficulty  of  evicting                 
  tenants that may be involved in drug traffic.                                
  Co-Chair Larson  MOVED to  ADOPT language  amending page  7,                 
  line  2  to read,  "did  not  know before  parting  with the                 
  property that the property would be  used in the manner that                 
  resulted in it being subject to forfeiture."  Representative                 
  Brown noted that  the amendment would include  property from                 
  which  the  owner  is  not  yet  parted.    There  being  NO                 
  OBJECTION, it was so ordered.                                                
  Co-Chair  MacLean  MOVED to  AMEND on  page  3, line  16, to                 
  delete "indictment" and insert "conviction".  Representative                 
  Hanley observed that the  grand jury does not convict.   Co-                 
  Chair  MacLean MOVED  to  AMEND the  motion to  a conceptual                 
  amendment   to  make   the   legislation  applicable   after                 
  conviction not indictment.  Representative Martin maintained                 
  that a criminal  would have time  to hide assets.   Attorney                 
  General  Cole  stated  that  the  amendment would  make  the                 
  legislation ineffectual.  Representative  Martin OBJECTED to                 
  the motion.  Co-Chair MacLean asked  that HB 188 be HELD  in                 
  committee.  Co-Chair MacLean WITHDREW HER AMENDMENT.                         
  HB 188 was HELD in Committee.                                                

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