“Petty Misdemeanors Would Trigger Asset Forfeiture in New Hawaii Bill”

by Walter Olson on February 22, 2013

If blaring your stereo around the neighborhood gets you sent up for disorderly conduct, do you risk seizure of just your radio? Or maybe your whole car? “Hawaii County Prosecutor Mitch Roth has lambasted the bill as ‘draconian.’ Meanwhile, state Sen. Russell Ruderman called SB 1342 ‘outrageous,’ telling Big Island Now that ‘we should have more safeguards, not less, to protect people from forfeiture abuses.’” [Nick Sibilla, Institute for Justice]

{ 6 comments }

1 Hugo S. Cunningham 02.22.13 at 9:15 am

No jurisdiction should be allowed to consider car forfeitures unless they already forfeit cars driven unsafely by drivers with licenses already suspended for unsafe driving.

That said, I have sympathy for neighborhoods which enjoy their quiet. If a second-time offender’s radio cannot be removed on the spot, let him walk. He can pick up his car from the police lot after paying a heavy fine.

2 Christopher Hoey 02.22.13 at 5:30 pm

Is there a correlation between this proposal and HI’s controversial law against taking snap shots of celebrities? Confiscate the tourist’s camera because he snapped a picture that includes a celebrity or wannabe star? In a state with such stunning views and sites that when I first visited it 35 years ago I thought it was conceived by Eastman Kodak?

3 Mikofox 02.22.13 at 5:37 pm

A link to the Senate Bill: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2013/testimony/SB1342_TESTIMONY_WTL_02-12-13.pdf

Don’t know what the sex slavery/prostitution part is doing in there. And the use/confiscation of Marijuana.
Seems to me there should not be a wide sweeping, relatively undefined law for asset forfeiture for petty misdemeanor charges, that can be misused by police or rangers.
Let’s say a tourist on a budget, who decides to enjoy your islands with his bicycle leaves no garbage and does no damage to the place he decides to overnight at, would his equipment be taken if he is caught violating Hawaii’s restrictive camping laws and couldn’t pay the fine?
On the other hand, shouldn’t there be an asset forfeiture law for REPEAT troublemakers damaging property and/or harassing people?

4 BlueSky 02.22.13 at 7:29 pm

Lawyers get elected into office & then write themselves into the laws so that we can do nothing without them.

Fisher Ames once said, “After the revolution (American) we’ll hang all the lawyers”.

5 Canvasback 02.22.13 at 8:34 pm

They haven’t gone far enough to protect us from lawbreakers. Miscreants could be stored on barges in Honolulu Harbor awaiting transport to Tonga and American Samoa. Quality of life is a trade issue here in the islands, no need to put up with those who can’t get with the program.

6 Hugo S. Cunningham 02.23.13 at 8:22 am

Mikofox wrote:
>Don’t know what the sex slavery/prostitution part is doing in there

I suspect they would confiscate cars of “johns” picking up prostitutes (and police decoys) off the street.
The USSC passed up an opportunity to curb the practice in
Bennis v. Michigan (1996) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bennis_v._Michigan (19
though the central issue in that case was the claim of an innocent co-owner of the car. (The 11-year-old used car’s value was only $600, so it did not raise 8th Amendment “excessive fines” issues.)

At the time, I made that same comment that I do above, that cause-of-the-moment prohibitionists should not be allowed to confiscate cars until the State already has a solid record of confiscating cars used to endanger the public.

Balancing libertarian concerns with awareness that prostitution is unhealthy for many naive and vulnerable prostitutes, I would favor tightly regulated legalization, open only to mature US-citizen providers able to enforce respect like therapists. In that context, street sweeps are better policy than mau-mauing Craigslist. I would favor long prison terms for customers trying to browbeat prostitutes into unsafe practices, expecially if said customers are HIV-positive.

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