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February 17, 2015

Richmond, VA - The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Virgina released the following statement by Executive Director Claire Guthrie Gastañaga regarding action by the Senate Finance Committee on HB 1287, Delegate Mark Cole’s bill to require a conviction before private property can be forfeited by the state:

Basic fairness is not a concept requiring research or careful analysis.  It certainly doesn’t require a year-long study by the Crime Commission.  One either believes that the state should have to prove you guilty of a crime before it takes the property it says was used in the crime or you don’t.  It’s a simple matter of equity, not a complex policy decision.  It is clear that Virginia law enforcement agencies (local and State police, Sheriffs and Commonwealth’s Attorneys) have become dependent on the cash they get from seizing and forfeiting property from Virginians, including those who have not been found guilty of a crime. Virginians who believe in basic fairness have been ill-served by the Senate Finance Committee today.

Learn  more  about House Bill 1287:

What would have passage of HB 1287 achieved?

HB 1287 would have required a criminal conviction before an individual’s property could be forfeited to the Commonwealth.

How was HB 1287 received by the House of Delegates?

The bill received overwhelming support in the House.  It was reported out of the Courts of Justice Committee with a vote of 20 to 1.  It then passed the full House with a vote of 92-6.

What happened to HB 1287 in the Senate Finance Committee?

The committee sent the bill to the State Crime Commission for study, preventing the bill from being heard and voted on by the full Senate.