Hickenlooper signs bill limiting civil asset forfeiture in Colorado
By Brian Seay
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed the bill hours before the deadline. (Photo: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a controversial bill Friday that changes how law enforcement officials can seize assets when teaming up with federal authorities on criminal investigations.
House Bill 1313 implements new reporting mandates for civil asset forfeiture, and limits agencies in Colorado from receiving proceeds from certain seizures.
“Government should never keep assets seized from innocent people,” said Hickenlooper in a signing statement, adding the bill is an “important first step to address problems inherent in the civil forfeiture laws.”
Civil asset forfeiture happens when law enforcement officials seize property and money from people suspected of being involved in a crime. Sometimes, the assets are seized before charges are filed. Proceeds from the seizures then go to the agency investigating the crime. When local agencies team up with the feds, they often share the assets.
The new law makes state agencies report asset seizures twice a year. It also prevents state law enforcement agencies from sharing proceeds with federal agencies if the seized property is valued at less than $50,000.
Police argued against the bill, saying most assets they seize don’t meet that threshold. Colorado sheriffs and