Legislature(1993 - 1994)
04/25/1993 12:10 PM FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= 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 9 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 10 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.