Colorado Rights Blog

SB15-006: Prohibit Forfeitures Without Criminal Conviction

Criminal Justice
Bill Number: SB15-006
Year: 2015
ACLU Position: Support
Sponsors: Saine/Woods


Under certain circumstances, a forfeiture action may proceed without a criminal conviction of the person named in the forfeiture action. The bill repeals the provisions authorizing a forfeiture action to proceed without a conviction unless it is part of a settlement agreed upon by all parties.

The bill gives the party who had items seized the right to a preliminary hearing or writ of replevin to determine the validity of the seizure or to require the return of the property. The court shall grant the motion if:
• It is likely that the final judgement will be that the seizing agency must return the property to the claimant;
• The property is not reasonably required to be held for investigatory reasons; or
• The property is the only reasonable means for a defendant to pay for legal representation in the forfeiture or criminal proceeding; at the court’s discretion, it may order the return of funds or property sufficient to obtain legal counsel, but less than the total amount seized, and require an accounting.

Current law authorizes law enforcement agencies in Colorado to accept and expend the proceeds of property forfeited to the federal government when the agency participated in the investigation. The bill prohibits law enforcement agencies in Colorado from participating or assisting in a federal forfeiture action unless the property subject to forfeiture has a value of greater than $50,000, excluding the value of any controlled substance. The bill also requires that any proceeds of a federal forfeiture action received by a law enforcement agency must be credited to the state general fund.

Current Status:

02/25/2015 - Senate Committee on Judiciary Postpone Indefinitely
01/07/2015 - Introduced In Senate - Assigned to Judiciary

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