Joe Negron signs on to Jeff Brandes civil asset forfeiture reform bill - Florida Politics

Joe Negron signs on to Jeff Brandes civil asset forfeiture reform bill

Joe Negron, the Stuart-based state Senator who recently survived a marathon battle with Jack Latvala to become Senate President in 2017, has signed on as a co-sponsor Jeff Brandes civil asset forfeiture bill (SB 1044) in the Legislature’s upper chamber.

The legislation would stipulate assets or property may only be seized under the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act after a criminal defendant has been convicted of a crime. Up to that point, assets suspected to be connected to a crime may be only temporarily revoked under a provisional title obtained by police.

Under current law, police can seize assets without even bringing charges against a defendant.

Civil asset forfeiture laws became in vogue with law enforcement agencies in the 1980s, where they became empowered to seize the property and money associated with criminal organizations involved in the illegal drug trade. The agencies that seized the assets were allowed to keep the proceeds resulting from their seizures, creating a powerful financial incentive to seize and forfeit property.

Unlike criminal asset forfeiture, however, with civil forfeiture, a property owner need not be found guilty of a crime – or even charged – to permanently lose her cash, car, home, or other property.

Lehigh Acres Rep. Matt Caldwell is sponsoring the companion bill (HB 883) in the House.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.
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