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Seizure of Property Prior to Conviction Really Not Fair

Is suspicion of being involved in drug sales reason enough for law enforcement agencies in California to be able to seize a person’s property even if they haven’t been charged with a crime?

Apparently, many police departments across the State think so and have used the questionable rationale to seize cars, cash and other property to augment their budgets.

Even worse, in situations where charges were never filed, seized goods and cash are often never returned.

We don’t believe it’s proper or even healthy to allow the practice of prematurely seizing someone’s property without proof of wrongdoing and conviction in a court of law.

The seizing of a person’s property on the mere suspicion that drug money was used to purchase or use the property is unjust and must stop.

A bill by Senator Holly Mitchell (Dem.- LA) and David Hadley (Rep. -Manhattan Beach) proposed to do just that. The bill, already approved by the Assembly Public Safety Committee, would only allow property to be confiscated if the owner is convicted of a crime.

We find this bill to be a good solution to what has become too common a practice at some police agencies. An action, that has in many cases caused undue deprivation without any remedy or recourse.

We understand that police budget have been strained and that property seizures have boosted budgets cut made during tough economic time, but that’s not reason enough to allow the practice to continue.

While we are not against seizures per se, we think those actions should only take place after a person has been convicted and there is sufficient proof that the property being seized is tied to the wrongdoing.

Sensible provisions to allow police, under the right circumstances, to seize property, should be included,

EGP urges State Senate and Assembly members to pass Mitchell and Hadley’s bi-partisan asset seizure bill, and for the governor to sign the bill when it crosses his desk.