FPC Announces Support of California Senate Bill 443, Important Reforms of Civil Asset Forfeiture Laws
SACRAMENTO – Firearms Policy Coalition’s mission is to “protect and defend the Constitution of the United States and the People’s rights, privileges and immunities deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition, especially the inalienable, fundamental, and individual right to keep and bear arms.”
We know all-too-well that an infringement of any one of your constitutional rights puts other rights in danger.
Accordingly, we are actively supporting California Senate Bill 443 (Mitchell), which reforms civil asset forfeiture procedures and protects the fundamental property rights of Californians not convicted of any crime.
Currently, California law enforcement agencies can – and often do – partner with federal law enforcement in an “equitable sharing” program to skirt California’s more stringent asset forfeiture requirements and seize assets for their agency use or disposal for fundraising purposes.
Under federal law, even people that are simply suspected of being involved in certain crimes can have their property permanently seized under a civil forfeiture order, even if they are never charged with or convicted of a crime.
In “equitable sharing” asset seizure programs, the federal government keeps twenty percent of any revenue raised from the forfeitures and the partnering state or local law enforcement agency keeps the balance – an egregious abuse of power and a perverse incentive towards the taking of your personal property.
FPC, which represents the interests of some of the most constitutionally-protected property and over-regulated classes of people, has carefully examined Senator Mitchell’s SB 443 and found that it is a strong intermediate step in the right direction.
More broadly, FPC believes that civil asset forfeiture reform is one of the most serious non-Second Amendment issues facing law-abiding people.
Senator Mitchell’s SB 443 will require that, in most cases, a defendant be convicted of an underlying crime before cash or property can be permanently forfeited.
In addition, it will require that more drug asset forfeiture cases be handled under state law rather than transferred to federal courts, and that seized assets are disbursed to local law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and the general fund, pursuant to state law, rather than under federal revenue-sharing agreements.
In supporting SB 443, FPC joins a large and diverse coalition of civil rights advocates including the Institute for Justice (co-sponsor), American Civil Liberties Union of California (co-sponsor), and California Public Defenders Association.
SB 443 is opposed by many anti-rights groups including California Police Chiefs Association, California State Sheriffs’ Association, Sacramento County Deputy Sheriffs’ Association, and George Gascon, the activist District Attorney for the City and County of San Francisco.
FPC is proud to stand with other leading civil rights organizations to remove incentives for personal property to be taken without due process so that our members and supporters may have access to all of the Bill of Rights, all of the time.
Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) is a grassroots 501(c)4 nonprofit public benefit organization. FPC’s mission is to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, especially the fundamental, individual Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.