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Winds of change have changed direction

Last issue we reported that HR 1835 if passed into law would reform our current asset forfeiture laws. We regret to inform our readers that after hearings on June 11, 1997 and behind closed doors an entirely new bill was written. HR 1965 was introduced by Representative Hyde on June 19th and Conyers endorses the new bill. In a letter to Hyde regarding HR 1965, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers stated, "Finally, you should be aware that this bill is but a piece of the Department of Justice strategy to use criminal forfeiture much more, and to render it much more unfair in terms of both scope and procedure." The ACLU, NRA and Gun Owners of America oppose this bill as well.

HR 1965 is entitled, A bill to provide a more just and uniform procedure for Federal civil forfeitures, and for other purposes. One of these other purposes reads as follows: "States should consider adopting legislative measures for the confiscation or seizure of illicit proceeds from drug trafficking and other serious offenses, asset forfeiture, as required, and the availability of provisional arrangements, such as the freezing of assets... States should also consider the introduction of arrangements for the equitable sharing of such forfeited assets."

The new bill contains provisions which would greatly expand current forfeiture law to reach all gross receipts allegedly obtained from almost every felony in Title 18 of the federal code. Keep in mind, in 80% of asset forfeiture cases no criminal charges are ever made... and confiscated property is almost never returned to the innocent owners.

For more information contact Forfeiture Endangers American Rights-FEAR


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