Connecticut Seal

General Assembly

File No. 250

    February Session, 2018

House Bill No. 5398

House of Representatives, April 5, 2018

The Committee on Banking reported through REP. LESSER of the 100th Dist., Chairperson of the Committee on the part of the House, that the bill ought to pass.

AN ACT PROHIBITING STATE AND LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES FROM PROVIDING CERTAIN PROPERTY TO A FEDERAL AGENCY FOR THE PURPOSE OF SUCH PROPERTY'S FORFEITURE.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Section 54-33g of the 2018 supplement to the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2018):

(a) When any property believed to be possessed, controlled, designed or intended for use or which is or has been used or which may be used as a means of committing any criminal offense, or which constitutes the proceeds of the commission of any criminal offense, except a violation of section 21a-267, 21a-277, 21a-278 or 21a-279, has been seized as a result of a lawful arrest or a lawful search that results in an arrest, which the state claims to be a nuisance and desires to have destroyed or disposed of in accordance with the provisions of this section, the Chief State's Attorney or a deputy chief state's attorney, state's attorney or assistant or deputy assistant state's attorney may petition the court not later than ninety days after the seizure, in the nature of a proceeding in rem, to order forfeiture of such property. Such proceeding shall be deemed a civil suit in equity, in which the state shall have the burden of proving all material facts by clear and convincing evidence. The court shall identify the owner of such property and any other person as appears to have an interest in such property, and order the state to give notice to such owner and any interested person by certified or registered mail.

(b) The court shall hold a hearing on the petition filed pursuant to subsection (a) of this section not more than two weeks after the criminal proceeding that occurred as a result of the arrest has been nolled, dismissed or otherwise disposed of. The court shall deny the petition and return the property to the owner if the criminal proceeding does not result in (1) a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to any offense charged in the same criminal information, (2) a guilty verdict after trial to a forfeiture-eligible offense for which the property was possessed, controlled, designed or intended for use, or which was or had been used as a means of committing such offense, or which constitutes the proceeds of the commission of such offense, or (3) a dismissal resulting from the completion of a pretrial diversionary program.

(c) If the court finds the allegations made in such petition to be true and that the property has been possessed, controlled or designed for use, or is or has been or is intended to be used, with intent to violate or in violation of any of the criminal laws of this state, or constitutes the proceeds of a violation of any of the criminal laws of this state, except a violation of section 21a-267, 21a-277, 21a-278 or 21a-279, and that a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to such offense or another charge in the same criminal information, or a guilty verdict after trial for such forfeiture-eligible offense, or a dismissal resulting from the completion of a pretrial diversionary program has been entered, the court shall render judgment that such property is a nuisance and order the property to be destroyed or disposed of to a charitable or educational institution or to a governmental agency or institution, except that if any such property is subject to a bona fide mortgage, assignment of lease or rent, lien or security interest, such property shall not be so destroyed or disposed of in violation of the rights of the holder of such mortgage, assignment of lease or rent, lien or security interest.

(d) (1) When the condemned property is money (A) on and after October 1, 2014, and prior to July 1, 2016, the court shall order that such money be distributed as follows: (i) Seventy per cent shall be allocated to the law enforcement agency, including the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection and local police departments, responsible for investigating the criminal violation and seizing the money, and such local police departments shall use such money for the detection, investigation, apprehension and prosecution of persons for the violation of criminal laws, and any money allocated to the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection shall be deposited in the General Fund; (ii) twenty per cent shall be deposited in the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund established in section 54-215; and (iii) ten per cent shall be allocated to the Division of Criminal Justice and deposited in the General Fund; and (B) on and after July 1, 2016, such money shall be deposited in the General Fund.

(2) When the condemned property is a valuable prize, which is subject to a bona fide mortgage, assignment of lease or rent, lien or security interest, such property shall remain subject to such mortgage, assignment of lease or rent, lien or security interest.

(e) When any property or valuable prize has been declared a nuisance and condemned under this section, the court may also order that such property be sold in accordance with procedures approved by the Commissioner of Administrative Services. Proceeds of such sale shall first be allocated toward the balance of any mortgage, assignment of lease or rent, lien or security interest, and the remaining proceeds of such sale, if any, shall be allocated in accordance with subparagraphs (A) to (C), inclusive, of subdivision (1) of subsection (d) of this section. In any criminal prosecution, secondary evidence of property condemned and destroyed pursuant to this section shall be admissible against the defendant to the same extent as such evidence would have been admissible had the property not been condemned and destroyed.

(f) If the court finds the allegations not to be true, irrespective of the findings in the criminal proceeding, or that the property has not been kept with intent to violate or in violation of the criminal laws of this state, or that the property does not constitute the proceeds of a violation of the criminal laws of this state, or that the property is the property of a person who is not a defendant, the court shall order the property returned to the owner forthwith and the party in possession of such property pending such determination shall be responsible and personally liable for such property from the time of seizure and shall immediately comply with such order.

(g) Failure of the state to proceed against such property in accordance with the provisions of this section shall not prevent the use of such property as evidence in any criminal trial.

(h) (1) Except when otherwise required by federal law, no state or local law enforcement agency shall refer, transfer or otherwise relinquish possession of property seized as a result of a lawful arrest or a lawful search that results in an arrest to a federal agency for the purpose of the property's forfeiture to such federal agency under the federal Controlled Substances Act.

(2) No state or local law enforcement agency participating in a joint task force or any other multijurisdictional collaboration with a federal agency shall accept payment of any kind from such federal agency, including the distribution of proceeds of any property forfeited to the federal agency as a result of the joint task force or multijurisdictional collaboration, unless the aggregate net equity value of such property exceeds one hundred thousand dollars, excluding the value of contraband.

(3) Nothing in subdivision (1) or (2) of this subsection shall be construed to restrict (A) any state or local law enforcement agency from acting alone or with a federal or other agency to seize contraband or property such state or local law enforcement agency has probable cause to believe has been used as a means of committing any criminal offense, or which constitutes the proceeds of the commission of any criminal offense, for which such contraband or property is subject to forfeiture under state or federal law, or (B) the federal government from acting without the involvement of a state or local law enforcement agency to seize contraband or property and seek forfeiture of such contraband or property under federal law.

This act shall take effect as follows and shall amend the following sections:

Section 1

October 1, 2018

54-33g

BA

Joint Favorable

 

The following Fiscal Impact Statement and Bill Analysis are prepared for the benefit of the members of the General Assembly, solely for purposes of information, summarization and explanation and do not represent the intent of the General Assembly or either chamber thereof for any purpose. In general, fiscal impacts are based upon a variety of informational sources, including the analyst's professional knowledge. Whenever applicable, agency data is consulted as part of the analysis, however final products do not necessarily reflect an assessment from any specific department.


OFA Fiscal Note

State Impact:

Agency Affected

Fund-Effect

FY 19 $

FY 20 $

Criminal Justice, Div.; Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection

GF - Potential Revenue Loss

Less than 10,000

Less than 10,000

Note: GF=General Fund

Municipal Impact:

Municipalities

Effect

FY 19 $

FY 20 $

Municipal Police Departments

Potential Revenue Loss

Less than 10,000

Less than 10,000

Explanation

The bill prohibits the state from receiving certain federal agency proceeds from property seized under federal law (known as equitable sharing program) and results in a potential minimal revenue loss of less than $10,000 each year to the Division of Criminal Justice and law enforcement agencies.

The Out Years

The annualized ongoing fiscal impact identified above would continue into the future subject to inflation.

OLR Bill Analysis

HB 5398

AN ACT PROHIBITING STATE AND LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES FROM PROVIDING CERTAIN PROPERTY TO A FEDERAL AGENCY FOR THE PURPOSE OF SUCH PROPERTY'S FORFEITURE.

SUMMARY

This bill generally prohibits state and local law enforcement agencies from referring, transferring, or relinquishing property seized during a lawful search or arrest to a federal agency for the purposes of forfeiting the property to the agency under the federal Controlled Substances Act (i.e., drug offenses). The bill specifies that the ban does not apply when federal law requires the property seizure.

The bill also prohibits state and local law enforcement participating in a joint task force or other multijurisdictional collaboration with a federal agency from accepting payment from the agency. Payment includes, under the bill, the distribution of proceeds from property forfeited to the federal agency as part of the task force or collaboration, unless the property's total value exceeds $100,000, excluding contraband.

The bill specifies that it does not restrict (1) state and local law enforcement from acting alone or with a federal or other agency to seize contraband or property if there is probable cause to believe it is the proceeds of a criminal offense or was used to commit a criminal offense and (2) federal law enforcement actions. The contraband or property is subject to forfeiture under applicable state or federal laws.

Existing state law limits forfeiture proceedings to property seized during a lawful search that results in an arrest. And it requires the court to deny the state's petition to forfeit property and require the property's return to its owner unless the proceeding results in a conviction (e.g., guilty plea, nolo contendere, guilty verdict).

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2018

COMMITTEE ACTION

Banking Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

18

Nay

1

(03/20/2018)

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