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Forfeiture bill would restrict police, prosecutors

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A bill scheduled for a hearing before the Indiana Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee Tuesday would require law enforcement to get a conviction before moving ahead with civil forfeiture.

Senate Bill 8, authored by Republican Sens. R. Michael Young of Indianapolis and Philip Boots of Crawfordsville, also would repeal a provision in Indiana Code that permits the state to turn over seized property to the federal government.

The hearing will be at 10 a.m. Jan. 10 in Room 130 of the Statehouse. Young is the committee chair and Democratic Sen. Greg Taylor is the ranking minority member.

The bill would limit forfeiture of property to the state to only those incidents where the owner is convicted of a crime. Indiana’s current forfeiture law, Indiana Code 34-32-1, does not specify the property’s owner must be convicted before the items can be forfeited.

An analysis by the Legislative Services Agency found the revenue from assets that are seized and forfeited could be reduced under the bill, but the agency could not determine the level of reduction. Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council reported that $1.8 million was seized and forfeited during fiscal year 2016. The proceeds were distributed between prosecuting attorneys, law enforcement and Indiana’s Common School Fund.

Indiana’s civil forfeitures were the subject of two high-profile court cases last year. 

In February 2016, Marion County’s forfeiture procedure was challenged by the Virginia-based Institute for Justice. The organization filed a lawsuit, claiming the Marion County police department and prosecutor’s office were keeping all of the forfeiture monies in a “policing for profit” scheme.

Marion Superior Judge Thomas Carroll denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss in July 2016 and in December granted the plaintiffs’ motion to compel discovery.

Also in September 2016, the Indiana Supreme Court affirmed that the state’s expungement statutes do not extend to civil forfeiture records. The case was D.A. v. State of Indiana, 48S02-1604-MI-183.

The Young-Boots bill would place additional limits on law enforcement’s ability to seize assets.

Currently, officers are allowed to seize the property of anyone who is arrested, searched or stopped as part of an administrative inspection. The bill would require that officers seizing property during an arrest or search must have probable cause to believe that the property is subject to seizure.

In addition, the bill requires the court to find substantial probability that the property is subject to seizure and that the state or municipality would prevail in a forfeiture hearing. Moreover, the court must find substantial probability that the property will be destroyed or made unavailable if it is not seized. Finally the court must also find that the need to seize the property outweighs the hardship to the owner and other parties.

The proposed legislation changes the procedures and criteria for pursuing a civil forfeiture of seized property.

Current law requires that prosecutors show the preponderance of evidence demonstrates that the property was used in the crime while the bill pushes prosecuting attorneys to show by clear and convincing evidence the defendant owns the property and was convicted of the crime.

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  1. Bob Leonard killed two people named Jennifer and Dion Longworth. There were no Smiths involved.

  2. Being on this journey from the beginning has convinced me the justice system really doesn't care about the welfare of the child. The trial court judge knew the child belonged with the mother. The father having total disregard for the rules of the court. Not only did this cost the mother and child valuable time together but thousands in legal fees. When the child was with the father the mother paid her child support. When the child was finally with the right parent somehow the father got away without having to pay one penny of child support. He had to be in control. Since he withheld all information regarding the child's welfare he put her in harms way. Mother took the child to the doctor when she got sick and was totally embarrassed she knew nothing regarding the medical information especially the allergies, The mother texted the father (from the doctors office) and he replied call his attorney. To me this doesn't seem like a concerned father. Seeing the child upset when she had to go back to the father. What upset me the most was finding out the child sleeps with him. Sometimes in the nude. Maybe I don't understand all the rules of the law but I thought this was also morally wrong. A concerned parent would allow the child to finish the school year. Say goodbye to her friends. It saddens me to know the child will not have contact with the sisters, aunts, uncles and the 87 year old grandfather. He didn't allow it before. Only the mother is allowed to talk to the child. I don't think now will be any different. I hope the decision the courts made would've been the same one if this was a member of their family. Someday this child will end up in therapy if allowed to remain with the father.

  3. Ok attorney Straw ... if that be a good idea ... And I am not saying it is ... but if it were ... would that be ripe prior to her suffering an embarrassing remand from the Seventh? Seems more than a tad premature here soldier. One putting on the armor should not boast liked one taking it off.

  4. The judge thinks that she is so cute to deny jurisdiction, but without jurisdiction, she loses her immunity. She did not give me any due process hearing or any discovery, like the Middlesex case provided for that lawyer. Because she has refused to protect me and she has no immunity because she rejected jurisdiction, I am now suing her in her district.

  5. Sam Bradbury was never a resident of Lafayette he lived in rural Tippecanoe County, Thats an error.

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