California’s new take on Civil Forfeiture Laws
About this time last year, we reported that, via the use of of Senate Bill 443, California legislators attempted to change the state’s civil forfeiture laws, however the Bill failed to pass in the Senate.
We are pleased to announce, however, that a similar Bill introduced this year just passed.
Starting in 2017, law enforcement agencies will no longer be permitted to retain money and personal belongings seized from arrestees simply because law enforcement believed that money or property was used in connection to or through a criminal enterprise. Now, the government must “obtain a criminal conviction for the unlawful manufacture or cultivation of any controlled substance or its precursors prior to an entry of judgment for recovery of expenses of seizing, eradicating, destroying, or taking remedial action with respect to any controlled substance.” This change in law effects arrestees who had cash or property seized that was valued at between $25,000 and $40,000.
Further, the Bill raises the bar regarding the standard of proof needed for the government to declare the assets forfeited. Prior to this law being enacted, the government only needed to prove the items were connected to a criminal activity by clear and convincing evidence. Now, however, the government must prove this connection beyond a reasonable doubt.
If you’ve had evidence seized as a result of a drug-related arrest, and are interested in trying to have that property returned to you, an experienced lawyer, such as those at the Li & Lozada Law Group, can help.