Civil Asset Forfeiture Bill Passes House Committee

Tuesday, March 22nd 2016, 6:25 pm

A watered down version of the civil asset forfeiture bill has crossed another hurdle in the state Legislature. 

Under the current law, police can seize property without ever having to prove a person committed a crime. 

Law officers just have to suspect that what they are seizing is somehow tied to a crime. 

A bill that would have ended that practice died in the Senate, but a lesser version passed a House committee Tuesday.

SB 1175 states that if the person whose assets are seized takes the agency to court and wins, the state will cover the legal costs. 

News 9 asked, “Why should the state be on the hook instead of thee police agency that improperly seized the property in the first place?”

"And that’s a good question,” said state Rep. Randy Grau, R-Edmond. “I would certainly consider that because after all that’s what they’re looking at, each individual agency, of course has to make its own decisions. So if we have an agency that’s not being responsible or not being as careful as they should be certainly I think they should be the ones to suffer the consequences.”

Under the bill, any legal costs would come out of funds the state gets from seized assets. 

The bill now moves to the full House of Representatives. 

If it passes, the bill's next stop is to the governor's office.