Conservative Rep. Henry Hyde Introduces Civil Forfeiture Reform Bill
U.S. Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL) introduced H.R. 2417, the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 1993, on June 15, 1993, at a press conference with Nancy Hollander, President of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and Nadine Strossen, President of the American Civil Liberties Union. Flanked by two of the nation's leading advocates for civil liberties, Rep. Hyde harshly condemned current forfeiture law.
His bill has seven major provisions. It would -- (1) Assign the burden of proof of forfeiture to the government and require it to prove clear and convincing evidence. (2) Provide for representation by counsel for those who cannot afford representation. (3) Clarify that innocent owners must be protected from forfeiture of their property. One is innocent if the property was used criminally by another without the knowledge or without the consent for such use by the owner. (4) Abolish the requirement that a property owner must post a bond of the lesser of $5000 or 10% of the value of the seized property. (5) Provide 60 days for the property owner to claim his or her property instead of the 10 days now provided. (6) Hold the government liable for damage to property seized by it due to the negligence of government agents. (7) Permit the release of property pending the claim if continued possession by the government causes the claimant substantial hardship.