State Representatives Sandra Scott (D-Rex), Viola Davis (D-Stone Mountain) and Kim Schofield (D-Atlanta) recently introduced House bills 106, 109 and 110, a legislative package which seeks to address the process for civil asset forfeiture in Georgia. The bills were first introduced during the 2022 legislative session.
“Georgia needs a better process that protects low-income, working Georgians, veterans, small business owners and innocent people from having their property taken, especially those who do not have access or means to obtain legal representation,” said Rep. Scott. “This legislative package would provide greater transparency and improve the process that everyday Georgians face through modest changes to the state’s civil forfeiture system.”
House Bill 106, or the Innocent Georgian Process Improvement Act, seeks to create a pathway for an individual to retrieve his or her vehicle that was used in a crime if the vehicle was driven by a defendant without the owner’s consent.
“Private citizens that have not violated any law should not have their property taken without due process,” said Rep. Davis. “Unfortunately, due to problems with civil forfeiture laws, many working Georgians and small business owners have experienced having their property taken, which is a violation of their constitutional rights to due process. This injustice must be corrected.”
House Bill 109 would exempt certain types of property from seizure or forfeiture under the Uniform Civil Forfeiture Procedure Act, including property that is subject to a homestead exemption, currency totaling $541 or less and motor vehicles worth less than $5,000 in market value.
“This is a serious issue impacting Georgia’s private citizens and businesses that continue to have property seized without due process,” said Rep. Schofield. “This is a violation of Georgians’ constitutional rights, and civil forfeiture laws must be revised.”
House Bill 110 would require the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government to establish and maintain a tracking system and searchable public website that lists property seized by law enforcement in Georgia; law enforcement agencies would be required to report its civil seizure and forfeiture cases to the public website.
According to recent news reports, the South Fulton Police Department has seized vehicles following forfeiture complaints, and individuals have encountered difficulties when trying to obtain their seized vehicles even when no charges of wrongdoing were filed by the police.