Texans for Accountable Government
Testimony of Justin Arman, Ex. Dir. of Texans for Accountable Government
IN SUPPORT of SB 95,
Before the Criminal Justice Committee on April 7th, 2015
Thank you Chairman and members of this committee. My name is Justin Arman and I’m the Executive Director of Texans for Accountable Government. I’m testifying in support of Senator Hinojosa’s bill SB 95.
The burden of proof in these criminal forfeiture proceedings should be raised to a standard that will reduce wrongful seizures. Forfeitures underwrite a substantial part of the operating budgets of local and state law enforcement, and these forfeiture accounts even pay the prosecutors involved in these proceedings.
Our current system of civil and criminal forfeiture has created an incentive structure that leads to well known abuses here in Texas, and raising the State’s burden of proof to ‘clear and convincing’ evidence is the least this legislature can do to give Justice a chance. Millions of dollars have been expropriated from Texans and it’s time you take a stand against this egregious practice, to ensure that law-abiding citizens, and visitors, are protected by the burden of proof we demand in criminal proceedings. A ‘preponderance of evidence’ doesn’t offer the protections we’re entitled to.
I can tell that this legislature is taking this issue seriously and my organization, Texans for Accountable Government, would like to send goodwill to Senator Hinojosa for authoring this important bill. This is pleasant stop on the road to total reform.
Thank you for your consideration.