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California’s efforts to Reform Civil Forfeiture Laws Fail

Posted in Change on the Horizon?,Criminal Law on November 13, 2015

Earlier this year, by way of Senate Bill 443, California legislators attempted to change the state’s civil forfeiture laws. As it stood, “local law enforcement officials [could] bypass the state’s less-lucrative civil forfeiture laws by partnering with the federal government and processing the forfeiture in federal court.”[1] The loophole existed because “under federal law, no conviction is required” allowing local law enforcement agencies to retain a substantial portion of the funds recovered under the civil forfeiture.[2] SB 443 would have required a federal conviction before assets worth over $25,000 would be formally forfeited.[3] However, while the bill passed the Senate by a wide margin, it ultimately failed in the Assembly by a vote of 24-44.[4]

[1] Institute for Justice, Feds Stymying State Civil Forfeiture Reform Efforts by Cutting Off Funds, Sept. 8, 2015.

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] LegInfo.ca.gov, COMPLETE BILL HISTORY, SB 443 (current as of 11/13/15).