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Jason Snead is a senior policy analyst in The Heritage Foundation's Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies. Read his research.
Lucas Drill is a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation.
Trends - Law - Effort - Forfeiture - Laws
One of the most positive trends in American law is the nationwide effort to reform civil forfeiture laws. Since 2014, 33 states have taken steps to secure the property rights of their citizens by limiting the practice.
Hawaii was poised to become the 34th state, but Gov. David Ige recently vetoed the bill. His veto ensures that innocent Hawaiians fighting forfeiture cases must continue to deal with a skewed, abuse-prone forfeiture system that even members of its own state legislature likened to “government-sponsored theft.”
Forfeiture - Law - Enforcement - Agencies - Currency
Civil forfeiture enables law enforcement agencies to seize currency and property alleged to have been used to commit a crime or that represents proceeds of a crime. Only, under both federal and Hawaii state law, there is no requirement that anyone be convicted, or even charged, before they can lose their cash, cars, or homes.
Hawaii law only requires that prosecutors prove that property is forfeitable by a preponderance of the evidence. Innocent owners bear the burden of effectively proving their own innocence to avoid losing their property.
Law - Incentivizes - Law - Enforcement - Forfeitures
Worse, current law incentivizes law enforcement to pursue forfeitures by awarding half the proceeds to the attorney general and the rest split evenly between police and prosecutors.
In other words, Hawaii’s forfeiture system suffers many of the same deficiencies as federal and many other state laws—shortcomings that have led to notable abuses and prompted broad, bipartisan calls for reforms.
Year - Hawaii - Legislature - HB - Forfeitures
Earlier this year, the Hawaii legislature passed HB 748, which limited forfeitures to felony offenses, required a criminal conviction before property could be forfeited, and ended the financial incentive by directing that all revenues to the general fund be appropriated...
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