Support asset forfeiture reform bill
Subject: Civil asset forfeiture reform bill advances in State House.
A bill to reform Colorado’s civil asset forfeiture process is moving forward in the legislature. House Bill 1404, which attempts to remove incentives for police to seize property before obtaining a conviction, was approved yesterday by the House Civil Justice and Judiciary Committee.
Under current law, police can seize and keep the property of a suspect, even if that person is not charged with or convicted of a crime. To regain the property, the suspect must prove that the property is “innocent.” This practice belies due process and justice.
HB 1404 prevents police from taking ownership of property unless the suspect is convicted of a felony. The property would have to be returned if the suspect is acquitted or charges are dropped.
Additionally, proceeds from the property taken through civil forfeiture would no longer go to the agency that seizes it. Instead, they would be used to repay any liens, compensate innocent co-owners and victims, and cover costs incurred by district attorneys’ offices and courts.
Any money left would be split between the government overseeing the agency that seized the property and a state drug and alcohol abuse treatment program.
If it seems important to you that conviction of a crime precede the penalty, it is important that you make your voice heard, because there is a loud outcry from a surprisingly large number of the state’s constabulary, who for some unknown reason, seem to prefer to act as both judge and jury than allow citizens the due process of our constitutional law. Please send a letter to Rep. Gregg Rippy, 200 E. Colfax, Room 200, Denver, CO 80203, or phone him at 303-866-2945, asking him to consider voting in favor of HB 1404 when it comes before the full House. Our legislators need to know that citizens support HB 1404, because it’s not right to seize first and ask questions later!
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