A blog of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section

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Senate passes civil asset forfeiture reform

On Wednesday the Senate passed Senate Bill 8 (Folmer-R-Lebanon) providing for what its prime sponsor called “unprecedented asset forfeiture reforms.”

imgres-1“Senate Bill 8 makes significant and unprecedented asset forfeiture reforms,” said Sen. Mike Folmer. “This is a first step towards smarter forfeiture practices and to provide at least some level of due process for property owners.”

Some of the important reforms in Senate Bill 8 include:

— Higher burdens of proof imposed on the Commonwealth;

–Protections for third party owners by placing additional burdens of proof on the Commonwealth;

— Improved transparency in auditing and reporting at both the county and state levels;

— Specific and additional protection in real property cases by prohibiting the pre-forfeiture seizure of real property without a hearing; and

— Additional procedural protections for property owners, such as returning property to the forfeiture proceeding if there is undue hardship, and an extra level of protection for anyone acquitted of a related crime who is trying to get their property back.

“Today the Senate has advanced Senate Bill 8, which will take a positive step forward to increase transparency of how forfeited funds are used, as well as raising the burden of proof required to seize assets,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati. “I am pleased to work with Senator Folmer on this issue, and hope that our colleagues in the House of Representatives will take up this important legislation in the near future.”

“I thank my Senate leadership for helping this important legislation move forward, as well as all the groups who worked tirelessly on these reforms,” said Sen. Folmer.

The bill now goes to the House for action.  A Senate Fiscal Note and summary is available.

Session Schedule

Senate

May 8, 9, 10, 22, 23, 24

June 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 22, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30

House

May 8, 9, 10, 22, 23, & 24

June 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 22, 26, 27, 28, 29, & 30

Bills Moving

House

Preempting Local Firearms Ordinances: House Bill 671 (M.Keller-R-Cumberland) state preemption over local firearms and ammunition regulations after surviving an onslaught of amendments, was referred into and out of the House Appropriations Committee and was passed by the House.  A House Fiscal Note and summary is available.  The bill now goes to the Senate for action.

Animal Abuse: House Bill 1238 (Stephens-R-Montgomery) further providing for the animal abuse statute overhaul was amended on the House Floor, referred into and out of the House Appropriations Committee and was passed by the House.  A House Fiscal Note and summary is available.  The bill now goes to the Senate for action.

Indecent Exposure Penalties: House Bill 489 (Quigley-R-Montgomery) further providing penalties for indecent exposure was reported out of the House Appropriations Committee and passed by the House.  A House Fiscal Noteand summary is available.  The bill now goes to the Senate for action.

Metals Theft: House Bill 267 (Metcalfe-R- Butler) relating to the theft of secondary metals was reported out of the House Appropriations Committee and passed by the House.  A House Fiscal Note and summary is available.  The bill now goes to the Senate for action.

Stolen Valor: House Bill 168 (Saccone-R- Allegheny) Stolen Valor Act was removed from the Table, was referred into and out of the House Appropriations Committee and was passed by the House.  A House Fiscal Note and summary is available.  The bill now goes to the Senate for action.

Senate

Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform: Senate Bill 8 (Folmer-R-Lebanon) further providing for civil asset forfeiture reform was passed by the Senate and now goes to the House for action.   A Senate Fiscal Note and summary is available.

Human Trafficking: Senate Bill 554 (Greenleaf-R-Montgomery) immunize the child victims of human trafficking from criminal prosecution (sponsor summary) was amended on the Senate Floor and was passed by the Senate.  The bill now goes to the House for action.

DNA Testing: Senate Bill 461 (Killion-R-Delaware) further providing for the use of DNA testing (sponsor summary) was reported from the Senate Judiciary Committee and is now on the Senate Calendar for action.

Gambling Disorder Sentencing: Senate Bill 496 (Scavello-R- Monroe) providing additional sentencing options for gambling disorders (sponsor summary) was reported from the Senate Judiciary Committee and is now on the Senate Calendar for action.

Threatening Law Enforcement Officers: Senate Bill 510 (Reschenthaler-R-Allegheny) increasing penalties for threatening law enforcement officers (sponsor summary) was reported from the Senate Judiciary Committee and is now on the Senate Calendar for action.

Common Pleas Judges: Senate Bill 222 (Greenleaf-R-Montgomery) providing for additional Common Pleas judges was amended on the Senate Floor and referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee.  The bill would add one Judge each for Bucks, Delaware and Montgomery counties.

(The information above is from Crisci Associates PA Capitol Digest)

logo.pngCalendar

May 2 — CLE:  Right to cure incarcerate hepatitis C patients, Noon, 11th Floor

May 3 — Criminal Justice Section Executive Committee, 12:30 p.m., 11th Floor

May 3 — Chancellor’s Forum—Candidates for Commonwealth Court, 4 p.m., 11th Floor

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