Asset Forfeiture

Florida Legislators Unanimously Approve Major Forfeiture Reforms

The bill, which now goes to the governor, requires an arrest and proof beyond a reasonable doubt in most cases.

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Office of Jeff Brandes

Today the Florida House of Representatives unanimously approved what the Institute for Justice describes as "a major overhaul of the state's civil forfeiture laws." The bill, which was unanimously approved by the state Senate on Friday, will become law if it is signed by Gov. Rick Scott.

The bill,  S.B. 1044, would require police to make an arrest in most cases before seizing property allegedly tied to a crime and change the standard of proof for keeping the property from "clear and convincing evidence" to proof beyond a reasonable doubt—the standard that applies to criminal cases. S.B. 1044 also would increase the filing fee a law enforcement agency must pay to begin a forfeiture action, require the agency to pay a $1,500 bond that goes to the property owner if he prevails, make it easier for innocent property owners to recover legal fees, increase oversight of forfeitures by the courts, and require law enforcement agencies to report forfeitures so the state can keep track of them. "This is a major first step to ending civil forfeiture in Florida," says Justin Pearson, managing attorney at the Institute for Justice office in Florida.

Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg), the primary sponsor of the bill, was inspired to propose reforms after hearing about abuses such as the 2012 airport seizure of €100,000 in cash from a Miami businessman, money that was kept by the Miami-Dade Police Department long after it became clear that he was not involved in criminal activity. "Under current law," Brandes recently told WFSU, the NPR station in Tallahassee, "government can seize assets without actually making an arrest of a person, and I think people are just generally shocked by that fact. How can the government take something from a Floridian—from a citizen—without charging them with a crime?"

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  1. I call this one ”magnum liberty.”

  2. that reform is everything IJ could’ve possibly asked for. no way Scott signs it.

    1. Depends. Is there a rider giving money to Big Sugar or to one of Scott’s friends?

    2. that reform is everything IJ could’ve possibly asked for. no way Scott signs it.

      Yep.

    3. And it shouldn’t matter if he signs it or not. It should be passed over his veto.

  3. When a bill is passed by veto-proof majority the first time round, how many executives will veto anyway?

    1. It has been known to happen if the governor thinks that he can persuade members of his party to change their votes. I believe that it happened in Wyoming with civil forfeiture reform, and then he twisted arms to get a weaker bill.

      This was unanimous, so Scott would be stupid here, especially since the legislative GOP hates him. Then again, he is stupid.

      1. Stupid?

        Rick Scott ran the largest Medicare fraud in the history of the U.S. of A. Then, in a state where senior citizens– who love Medicare more than God himself– Scott won election to the Governor’s mansion. Twice.

        Dude is an evil genius, I’d say.

    2. Doesn’t it also have to pass the Florida Senate before going to the governor?

      1. Oops, “the bill, which now goes to the governor.” Derp.

    3. Larry Hogan of MD vetoed a civil forfeiture reform bill that passed near unanimously, and the legislature overrode it, and now is passing a stronger bill.

      Cops have strong pull.

  4. Why don’t they just go hug a mugger while they’re at it?

    1. They tried, but the cop shot them, then charged them with “assaulting an officer” for the hug.

      1. Hug ? That Milwaukee sheriff at CPAC said you shouldn’t “cuddle up” to criminals.

  5. OT
    another gun store trying to open in northern Virginia faces protest. that place is another planet populated by the most rabid busybodies with what seems limitless resources.

    this quote from a pro-2A guy, though accurate, still abraded my sensibilities:

    …an Arlington gun owner who signed the supportive petition, said that “a legally operated shop like that provides a service to law enforcement personnel, the military and anyone who wants a gun for sport or protection.”

    Modern society, McDermott said, wants “to prohibit a thing instead of control behavior. The Supreme Court has said over and over again, no right is absolute .?.?. but we’ve gotten to the point that any kind of negotiation is considered surrender.”

    1. It’s that kind of language that has alarmed the residents of Lyon Park, who note that the store would be across the street from a private day-care center that serves both school-age and younger children.

      Oh mi gosh, think of all those barely-able-to-walk kids going in and getting guns!

      1. I think it’s more like ‘what if an Adam Lanza goes in buys a gun and shoots up the daycare?’

        1. Makes sense. I always get my kid killin’ guns at the location closest to my targets. Otherwise I might be tempted to shoot up something else on the way there and spoil the surprise.

          1. The weapons themselves might compel you into the commission of such a murderous act, seeing as your firearms possess conscience and moral agency. It is advisable for you to relinquish your personal arms, and to entrust the defense of your home, possessions, and family to the earnest and ever-benevolent government.

            /Serf-like hoplophobe.

        2. Scary to think Adam Lanza simply jumped in his car, murdered his mother, took her firearms, and drove to that elementary school.

          1. Snappage is a mystery.

      2. It would look just like this fine documentary

        1. The agony of a waiting period

    2. interesting decision to put the FFL transfer fee at cost ($2 to cover resident NICS background check) relying on their boast they’ll have the cheapest prices. where that may trip them up is state sales tax.

    3. Okay, maybe we are worse than the French.

    4. There are still places in states like North Carolina, Texas, and Georgia where firearms are as commonplace as cooking utensils, and perceived as tools, with no pants-shitting hysterics. That’s America. Northern Virginia’s proximity to the slavers’ market that is the District of Columbia has populated it with concern trolls and serf-like submissives who pale in terror at the mention, or sight, of a gun.

      1. The difference in mindset, concerning guns, between certain regions is staggering.

        1. To some people, it’s literally a malevolent totem somehow intent on effecting the collapse of civilization. Those are the sort of hoplophobes whose instant response to any suggestion that firearms are anything more than Satan’s worst creation consists of wailing and screeching. There’s no talking to these morons.

      2. In most of the rest of Virginia, this type of protest would be unheard of.

        1. Richmond, Charlottesville and Newport News come to mind.

          1. The Peoples’ Free City of Charlottesville: Would.

            Richmond: Depends on which area.

            Newport News: Srsly? With all those servicemembers and military retirees?

  6. “How can the government take something from a Floridian?from a citizen?without charging them with a crime?”

    Call it a tax?

    1. +1 Pilfertax

    2. Fuck you,that’s why.And,there is no way that it is constitutional.I don’t are what 9 old farts say.

    3. A penalty by any other name is just as confiscatory a tax. – Justice Roberts SCOTUS.

      “The Supreme Court has said over and over again, no right is absolute …” is another one of my favorites along with the “If you have nothing to hide” idiocy. The past/present liberty grabbing exceptions exacted by the courts renders the relationship of absolute to anything remotely reasonable to upholding NATURAL Rights as meaningless.

      Any supporters of these 2 ideologies as appropriately American should be stripped naked and fleeced by the state to “re-educate” them. They can then network with other like minded people at the camp to regain their prior collective successes upon release.

  7. “How can the government take something from a Floridian?from a citizen?without charging them with a crime?”

    Call it a tax?

    1. The War on Drugs, the War on Terrorism, the War on Freedom, etc etc.

      1. “The War on Drugs, the War on Terrorism, the War on Freedom, etc etc.” Which distills down to; War on the People. It is such a powerfully succinct slogan that I don’t understand why the various War mongers have not latched on to it.

  8. *lifts head out of sand*

    Libertarian moment?

  9. The bill, S.B. 1044, would require police to make an arrest in most cases before seizing property allegedly tied to a crime and change the standard of proof for keeping the property from “clear and convincing evidence” to proof beyond a reasonable doubt?the standard that applies to criminal cases.

    I’m too lazy to read the exact text of the bill, but what does this mean?

    What requires the proof beyond a reasonable doubt… that the money itself is dirty, but not a conviction of the person ‘caught’ with the money? What this sounds like to me is that law enforcement can create a kind of legal proceeding against the money itself, bypassing the owner of the money, and through an administrative proceeding “find” that the money is guilty of being dirty… beyond a reasonable doubt.

    1. I tried to cut and past the section, but couldn’t. It says a person has to be convicted and the property has to be contraband.

      1. Ok, well then that’s a good thing.

        Unfortunately, we’re still tying a profit to a conviction itself, which leads to all kinds of bad incentives for prosecutors.

        1. Sure, but I’m not going to complain about a step in the right direction.

        2. The profit motive can be diluted significantly by requiring all funds to go to the state’s general fund, and allowing no revenue sharing whatsoever with locals.

          There’s an interesting issue out there, still, with the federal work-around, where the locals get the feds to seize it. I wonder if this statute is drafted to apply to all seizures, state or fed, and if so what the Constitutional fallout will be.

    2. Filthy Lucre!

  10. So, is this now a bipartisan issue, or are only Republican states fixing this?

    1. Article says unanimous, so what I mean are all the other states working on this, too?

      (I sounded like I meant no Democrats voted for this, or are good for reform…I meant more what’s the deal with other states or is this just a Florida thing.)

      Mebbe stay off the internetz until mah communications skillz return.

      1. It’s a bipartisan issue. Plenty of GOP states, like Wyoming and Oklahoma, have been doing things, but also Dem states like Maryland.

        The police derp has fans in both parties, but both parties also have good people on this issue.

      2. Florida is a purplish state, so I would say bipartisan, since it was unanimous.

  11. Just waiting for this guy to get primaried by someone with the backing of the FOP screaming about how he allowed drug traffickers to keep their money while murdering the chillens.

  12. the FOP screaming about how he allowed drug traffickers to keep their money while murdering the chillens.

    I’d love to be rich enough to run a counter-campaign, about how the cops have been allowed to keep money they seize while murdering the chillens. H & R has given me plenty of IRL examples of this.

    1. I wonder if we did a PAC and carefully targeted (SWIDT?) the worst of the worst in close races if we could gain any traction?

  13. I wonder what the Founders were thinking, as forfeiture goes back to colonial times.

    1. It was originally for smuggling, and not a license to steal from any citizen who caught a cop’s fancy.

      1. And then only when the smuggler (the owner of a seized ship usually) was not located in the United States (foreign nationals, Americans abroad) and thus beyond the reach of the United States for prosecution.

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