Connecticut Seal

General Assembly

 

Raised Bill No. 5398

February Session, 2018

 

LCO No. 1622

 

*_____HB05398BA____032118____*

Referred to Committee on BANKING

 

Introduced by:

 

(BA)

 

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 Section 54-33g of the 2018 supplement to the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2018):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