A bill to reform Hawaii’s law on civil asset forfeiture was sent to Gov. David Ige Friday for his consideration.

The Legislature is concerned that law enforcement is seizing the personal property of people who have not be charged or convinced of crime.

House Bill 748 would prohibit the practice.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige at his ceremonial desk in 2017. Nathan Eagle/Civil Beat

As proposed, asset forfeiture would only apply to felony cases where property owners have been convicted. The revised law would also not apply to animals prior to a disposition of criminal charges.

“This amounts to government-sponsored theft” the bill states. “The fair administration of justice means ensuring that not a single innocent individual’s personal property is permanently seized without just cause and conviction, or compensation.”

Should HB 748 become law, the state attorney general would be required to deposit the net proceeds of forfeited property into the state’s general fund.

Something to consider...

Civil Beat is a small, independent newsroom that provides free content with no paywall. That means readership growth alone can’t sustain our journalism.

The truth is that less than 2% of our monthly readers are financial supporters. To remain a viable business model for local news, we need a higher percentage of readers-turned-donors.

Will you consider making a tax-deductible gift today?

About the Author