Members of the Georgia General Assembly will soon consider two separate bills that pertain to civil asset forfeiture, one of which would make it harder for government officials to seize private property.
This bill, the Due Process in Civil Forfeiture Act, would increase the burden of proof for the government in civil forfeiture proceedings. The bill would also provide people with public defenders during civil forfeiture proceedings in certain criminal cases.
This, according to the language of the bill on the Georgia General Assembly’s website.
“The state’s burden of proof shall be to show by clear and convincing evidence that seized property is subject to forfeiture,” according to the bill.
“There shall be a rebuttable presumption that any property of a person is subject to forfeiture under this chapter if the state attorney establishes by clear and convincing evidence that (1) The person has engaged in conduct giving rise to forfeiture; (2) The property was acquired by the person during the period of the conduct giving rise to forfeiture or within a reasonable time after such period; and (3) There was no likely source for the property other than the conduct giving rise to forfeiture.”
Sponsors of the bill are State Rep. Sandra Scott (D-Rex), State Rep. Erica Thomas (D-Austell), State Rep. Kim Schofield (D-Atlanta), State Rep. Viola Davis (D-Stone Mountain), and State Rep. Shelly Hutchinson (D-Snellville).
Georgia legislators will consider another bill that would amend state law to give law enforcement agencies the option to destroy or sell certain firearms.
Sponsors of that bill are State Sen. Lester Jackson (D-Savannah), State Sen. Emanuel Jones (D-Decatur), State Sen. Ed Harbison (D-Columbus), State Sen. Sheikh Rahman (D-Lawrenceville), and State Sen. Michael Rhett (D-Marietta).
As The Georgia Star News reported last week, Rep. Scott has put forward separate bills that would, if enacted, require that law enforcement officers wear body cameras on-the-job. Law enforcement officers might also have to submit to a citizen review board. Members of such a board would review law enforcement officers’ actions in the line of duty. Scott would also strip law enforcement officers of certain legal immunities they have as they do their jobs, thus subjecting them to civil liability.
One of Scott’s bills, which she called The Police Accountability Act, requires that all law enforcement agencies provide body cameras to each of their officers on and after July 1, 2024. The bill also provides “that law enforcement officers alleged to have committed misconduct or a violation of law while acting within the scope of his or her official duties or employment shall be subject to lawsuit or liability.”
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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Background Photo “Georgia Capitol” by Autiger. CC BY-SA 2.0.