ASSEMBLY STANDING COMMITTEE ON CODES
ASSEMBLY STANDING COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY
NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING
Civil forfeiture is a tool commonly used by law enforcement to prevent those who have committed crimes from financially benefiting from their illegal actions. Depriving persons who commit crimes of ill-gotten gains can help deter crime and provide revenue to support government operations. In addition to traditional civil forfeiture, there has also been increased use by district attorneys in New York of deferred prosecution agreements and non-prosecution agreements ("DPAs"). DPAs are settlement agreements, between the district attorney and most often a business entity, through which prosecution may be deferred or avoided in exchange for changed corporate practices, appointment of a third-party monitor and, typically, payment of a substantial monetary penalty.
This hearing will examine the current methods of civil forfeiture and the use of DPAs in New York. It will also consider these and other means by which monetary penalties are obtained, and forfeited monies and property are distributed. The Committees further wish to receive information and testimony concerning current accounting practices, and whether appropriate information about these seizures and monetary payments is made available to putative owners, third-party lienholders and the public-at-large.
Please see the reverse side for a list of subjects to which witnesses may direct their testimony.
Persons wishing to present pertinent testimony to the Committees at the above hearing should complete and return the enclosed reply form as soon as possible. It is important that the reply form be fully completed and returned so that persons may be notified in the event of emergency postponement or cancellation.
Oral testimony will be accepted by invitation only and limited to TEN (10) minutes' duration. In preparing the order of witnesses, the Committees will attempt to accommodate individual requests to speak at particular times in view of special circumstances. These requests should be made on the attached reply form or communicated to Committee staff as early as possible.
Twenty (20) copies of any prepared testimony should be submitted at the hearing registration desk. The Committees would appreciate advance receipt of prepared statements.
In order to meet the needs of those who may have a disability, the Assembly, in accordance with its policy of non-discrimination on the basis of disability, as well as the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), has made its facilities and services available to all individuals with disabilities. For individuals with disabilities, accommodations will be provided, upon reasonable request, to afford such individuals access and admission to Assembly facilities and activities.
How prevalent is forfeiture in New York? Are smaller claiming agents (i.e., police departments) and claiming authorities (i.e., district attorney's offices) able to make effective use of civil forfeiture?
Is the seizure of money or property in New York sometimes permissible without court approval? Under what circumstances?
By what process may a person claiming innocence seek return of seized funds or property? What mechanisms are in place with respect to the due process rights of such persons? When seizure or forfeiture occurs, are the interests of family members and third-party owners considered?
How is seized property stored and maintained, including contraband and potentially dangerous property (such as weapons)? What steps are taken to retain resale value and/or assure that seized property that is not contraband will continue to be available for its intended use?
How are property and monetary seizures and forfeitures accounted for and reported? Are they accounted for and reported in the same manner? How are penalties and payments obtained through DPAs accounted for and reported? What role does the State Comptroller's office have with respect to revenues generated from DPAs and forfeited funds and property?
How prevalent are deferred prosecution agreements and non-prosecution agreements in this state? Are they used only to conclude investigations involving corporations and businesses, or are they used in matters involving individuals as well? What laws govern these agreements? Is additional statutory guidance needed?
What, if any, is the proper role for state and local regulatory agencies in deferred prosecution agreements and non-prosecution agreements? Are such agencies appropriately consulted and involved in the negotiation and implementation of these agreements?
Is a reporting requirement similar to Executive Law 837-a (6) involving forfeiture appropriate for deferred prosecution agreements and non-prosecution agreements?
How are funds and property obtained through forfeiture and DPAs distributed? Is restitution assured? Are the needs of victims and the community properly addressed?