Bipartisan Coalition Calls for Changes to State's Civil Asset Forfeiture Sytem

AUSTIN — A bipartisan group of Texas lawmakers Wednesday called for legislation to reform civil asset forfeiture in the state, touting overwhelming support for the issue in a newly released poll by a conservative think tank.In Texas, the government routinely seizes cash, cars, homes and other property from people suspected of certain crimes, especially those related to drugs. That money is often used to pay for tools police departments and other law enforcement agencies need to do their jobs. But the legislators said the government often keeps that property even if a person is not convicted or charged. When an innocent person's property, like a car, is used in a crime by another person, legislators said, the burden to prove innocence is too high and also expensive. Those barriers deter people from fighting to get their property back, they said. Sen. Konni Burton, a Colleyville Republican who has filed legislation requiring the property be returned unless a person is convicted, said the system of civil asset forfeiture in the state is "in opposition to everything this country was founded upon and it must change."Multiple bills on the issue have been filed in the Senate and the House, but the subject attracted more attention last week when President Donald Trump, in response to a comment from Rockwall County Sheriff Harold Eavenson, offered to "destroy" a Texas state senator who he said was making it harder for law enforcement to get control of assets.  Continue reading...

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