Hawaii Attorney General Approves Asset Forfeiture Rules
News Release from Hawaii Attorney General, January 3, 2020
HONOLULU – Hawaii Attorney General Clare E. Connors approved the administrative asset forfeiture rules, which will become effective on January 17, 2020.
Administrative asset forfeiture is the process by which property may be forfeited by a seizing agency rather than through judicial proceedings. It is an important law enforcement tool because it deprives criminals of the money and resources necessary to continue illegal enterprises and reduces the economic incentive to engage in criminal activity. Asset forfeiture redirects the money used to sustain illegal activity to law enforcement, to support efforts such as community policing, training, and enforcement operations intended to protect and serve communities.
The purpose of the rules, under Hawaii Administrative Rules section 5-51-1, is to “govern the practice and procedure for the filing and processing of petitions for administrative forfeiture[.]” The rules clarify the procedures applicable to county law enforcement officials and those seeking remission or mitigation of an asset forfeiture decision. The rules also establish procedures that facilitate consistent and timely processing of petitions for administrative asset forfeiture.
The rules may be viewed on the Department of the Attorney General’s website at "Chapter-51-Administrative-AssetForfeiture".
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Hawaii's New Asset Forfeiture Rules Take Effect Jan. 17
HPR: … New requirements will apply to local enforcement authorities in seizing cars and other property of criminals under long-awaited asset forfeiture rules issued by the Hawaii attorney general on Dec. 31.
The rules take effect Jan. 17 and require county prosecutors to describe the crimes that justify the seizure of private property under state statutes and to petition the attorney general for approval.
The seizure program, known as civil asset forfeiture, is used in all 50 states to confiscate financial and other property of criminals. Some states require a criminal conviction before the property can be taken but most jurisdictions, including Hawaii, require police only demonstrate probable cause to initiate a seizure.
Hawaii's asset forfeiture program has been in place for over 30 years, but administrative rules had not been previously issued.
Last year, Gov. David Ige vetoed a measure that supporters said would have placed needed restrictions on law enforcement agencies' use of asset forfeitures in response to reported abuses. Among other limitations, the bill would have required the sale of seized property to proceed only after owners were convicted of felonies.
Ige said H.B. 748 was too restrictive and that enough protections existed under current laws. But he called on the attorney general to issue the administrative rules for the ongoing asset program by the end of 2019….
read … Hawaii's New Asset Forfeiture Rules Take Effect Jan. 17
2018: Audit: State Asset Forfeiture Program -- 30 Years Without Rules
2019: HB748: Hawaii needs civil asset forfeiture reform