NEWS AND VIEWS THAT IMPACT LIMITED CONSTITUTIONAL GOVERNMENT
"There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with
power to endanger the public liberty." - - - - John Adams
Tuesday, January 14, 2020
Arizona Bill Would Require Conviction Before Asset Forfeiture
A Blow Against The Police State
PHOENIX, Ariz. – A bill prefiled in the Arizona House would reform the state’s asset forfeiture laws to prohibit the state from taking a person’s property without a criminal conviction in most situations. The proposed legislation would build on important reforms signed into law in 2017.
Rep. Bob Thorpe (R-Flagstaff) filed House Bill 2149 (HB2149) on Jan. 9. Under the proposed law, Arizona prosecutors would not be able to proceed with the asset forfeiture process without a criminal conviction.
HB2149 is similar to another bill prefiled for the upcoming session (HB2032)
An AZCIR analysis in 2017 found that Arizona agencies seized nearly $200 million in property between 2011 and 2015 from people who may never have been charged or convicted of a crime.
In 2017, Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill into law that enacted modest reforms to the state’s forfeiture laws and closed a loophole that enabled prosecutors to circumvent state laws by passing cases off to the feds. HB2149 would build on the foundation set in that law and further reform the state’s asset forfeiture process.
In 2017, the legislature increased the evidentiary standard necessary for the state to win a forfeiture case. It also took a big step toward closing a loophole that allows state and local police to get around more strict state asset forfeiture laws in a vast majority of situations. This is particularly important in light of a policy directive issued in July 2017 by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions for the Department of Justice (DOJ).