Calling it a “dangerous and burdensome expansion of the criminal court’s responsibility”, NYSACDL President Kevin O’Connell recently voiced opposition to a bill contained within the 2012 – 13 budget recently submitted to Gov. Cuomo which requires judges to order asset forfeiture at sentencing on every felony and misdemeanor conviction. Noting that criminals should not be allowed to profit from crimes, NYSACDL nonetheless opposes the current bill which which lacks the procedural notices and safeguards in place in the current state forfeiture scheme. Mr. O’Connell cited as example, for instance, a teenager uses drugs in the family home; is the home “involved” in the crime thereby causing the parents to lose the home?
The bill is supported by prosecutors and intended to obviate the need for prosecutors to pursue asset forfeiture in a separate civil proceeding. Funds from forfeited assets go to state and local governments including prosecutors’ offices. The bill as submitted however is broad and greatly expands the courts’ authority to order forfeiture of assets “constituting, or derived from, proceeds the person obtained directly or indirectly as the result of” a violation of any offense.
The bill and NYSACDL’s response were detailed in a recent New York Law Review Article: Caher, John, Cuomo Bill Would Move Forfeiture Rulings to Criminal Sentencings, NYLJ, January 20,12012