|Posted:||June 2, 2015 05:15 PM|
|From:||Representative Jim Cox|
|To:||All House members|
|Subject:||Civil Asset Forfeiture|
|In the near future, I will introduce legislation that will reform civil asset forfeiture to provide greater protection for the due process rights and the property rights of Pennsylvanians.
Under current law, prosecutors and police can seize and forfeit property when they claim that the property has a connection to crime. The forfeiture proceeding is then separated from any criminal prosecution and is litigated in civil court. Because this is a civil matter, the property owner does not have to be convicted or even charged with a crime in order for the property to be forfeited.
The property owner also has considerably fewer rights than he would in criminal court, including no right to counsel and a lower evidentiary burden for the commonwealth. If the commonwealth prevails, the property and the revenue from liquidating the property go directly to the seizing agency, which creates a financial incentive for the agency to seize and forfeit property whenever possible.
Public interest law organizations and press reports indicate that most people never challenge the forfeiture. My legislation will reform asset forfeiture to strike a greater balance between the due process rights of Pennsylvanians and the ability of law enforcement to use this process to break up criminal activity.
My bill will include four key reforms:
Please join me in protecting the rights of our citizens.
Introduced as HB508