Law enforcement agencies in California may have one fewer weapon in their arsenals to combat drug crimes in the state. The California State Senate overwhelmingly supported SB443, which limits civil asset forfeiture in the state.
The practice allows law enforcement agencies to confiscate personal property if they believe that the property suggests criminal activity, even if the owner is not charged with a crime. The concept of civil asset forfeiture arose from a loophole in federal law that was designed to combat large-scale drug operations.
The technique allows law enforcement agencies to seize cash, property and other assets from individuals based only on suspicion of criminal activity, regardless of whether the suspicion is ever confirmed through criminal prosecution. There is no requirement that the seizing agency return the confiscated property.
The state legislature was prompted to act following the release of a report by the Drug Policy Alliance, which showed that a number of small towns in California based their annual operating budget on anticipated asset forfeitures. In addition, the report showed that the majority of those most impacted by civil asset forfeiture were low-income, minorities and immigrants. Between 2000 and 2013, California law enforcement agencies seized nearly $700 million in assets from individuals.
The new legislation applies a minimum threshold of $40,000 to asset seizures. Assets valued at less than $40,000 would not be subject to seizure if the measure were signed into law.
Drug crimes Attorney
Regaining control of your assets is notoriously difficult under current civil asset forfeiture laws. The laws were originally authorized to combat drug crimes like drug trafficking. If you’ve been arrested for drug trafficking or other drug crimes in California, you need the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney like Robert Helfend.
Mr. Helfend has more than 30 years of experience in criminal defense in Los Angeles County and throughout Southern California. He has provided superior legal counsel and representation to thousands of Californians who have been accused of crimes. Don’t risk your freedom and well-being on an inexperienced criminal defense attorney.
Contact Robert Helfend or call toll-free at (800) 834-6434, (310) 456-3317, (818) 591-2809 or (805) 273-5611 for an immediate consultation on your Los Angeles County drug crimes case.
Photo Credit: Office of Public Affairs, U.S. Marshal Service, via Flickr.com