Nevada Assembly panel toughens rules on seizing assets
CARSON CITY – The Assembly Judiciary Committee has unanimously approved a bill making it tougher for police to seize assets of suspected criminals.
As amended and approved Monday, SB36 requires police to prove by a higher legal standard that they should be able to take the money and property of suspected criminals.
The bill stemmed in part from complaints by Las Vegas gambler and golf course owner Bill Walters that he has not been able to get back $2.85 million taken by Las Vegas police in 1997 in a case in which he was charged with illegal betting. He is appealing the case.
Walters’ case won’t be affected by AB36, revised after its introduction to ensure it wouldn’t be retroactive.
Under the bill, police must prove by ”clear and convincing evidence” that a suspect was involved in illegal activity and assets should be seized.
Current law requires a lesser legal standard, that police show by ”preponderance of evidence” the suspect was involved in a crime.
During the Assembly committee hearing, Ben Graham of the Nevada District Attorneys Association didn’t oppose the bill. Graham had opposed the changes during Senate hearings, but he said Monday, ”It won’t have any significant effect on our ability to seize the assets of people who do wrong.”
Wording on how the assets should be divided was omitted from the bill that passed the Senate. The amendment ensures that the first $100,000 seized goes to local law enforcement authorities. Schools would get 70 percent of the remaining funds.
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