Did you know that if you or one of your family members are merely suspected of being involved in certain crimes, your private property, including your firearms, can be permanently seized without due process?
As a civil rights organization that represents the interests of some of the most regulated, tracked and legislated classes of people, we believe it is imperative that our supporters have access to their constitutionally guaranteed private property and due process rights.
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.
This bill is on its third reading, and we need your help in making sure it gets to the Governor’s desk.
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.
But under federal law, people that are simply suspected of being involved in certain crimes can have their property (including guns) permanently seized under a civil forfeiture order, even if they are never charged with or convicted of a crime.
Such was the case of Tony Jalali, who fled Iran in 1978 in search of a country where the rule of law, and due process, prevailed. After years of hard work he purchased an office building in Anaheim and eventually rented space to two medical marijuana dispensaries. Though he was simply a landlord, and his tenants were never charged with a crime, the City of Anaheim and federal officials attempted to take the building from him.
Fortunately for Tony, he received pro bono legal assistance and after a two-year legal battle was able to retain his building.
The City of Anaheim attempted to take Jalali’s building through an “equitable sharing” asset seizure program in which 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.
We believe 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 the more stringent state law.
We’re proud to stand with other leading civil rights organizations on this issue 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.
Contact your Assemblymember right away to let them know you support these important reforms, and then sign our petition!