COLUMBIA, SC (FOX Carolina) - Representative Seth Rose (D - District 72), who sits on the committee trying to change asset seizure laws in South Carolina, says he believes there is abuse in the current state system
“Citizens are having money taken off of them,” Rose lamented. “And there may not even be the requisite nexus to criminal activity, but their money has been seized, and they don’t have the means or power to fight for that chunk of change back.”
He believes the current system incentivizes law-enforcement to seize money because they may ultimately get a portion, and sometimes money takes way too long to be returned...or never is.
“Obviously we have a lot of people that are doing things the right way," Rose clarified. “But we don’t have proper oversight over the funds."
The new proposed legislation committee heard testimony about today seeks to stop roadside asset seizures if you are pulled over altogether, and would stop seizures of money and assets if someone is not convicted of a crime.
“Over 55%, or roughly 55%, of the monies that are seized are under $1000," Rose explained.
The new law would also establish a threshold for seizures, and move cases involving them to criminal courts instead of civil. But Rose says he and other lawmakers want more; he is working on an amendment that says the people doing the seizing should have the burden of proof instead.
“If money is taken off you or one of your viewers, I think law-enforcement should hold the burden to say why they took it, and that it is tied to some sort of criminal activity," he said.
He also believes that if someone is convicted of a crime, money and assets seized should be moved somewhere other than the police department.
“I think that funds should ultimately go back to the local governments for which these officers work – their general fund," Rose said.
FOX Carolina did reach out to both Greenville and Spartanburg County sheriff's officers to see what they thought of the proposed changes, and whether law-enforcement officials believe new assets seizure laws could impact their ability to do their jobs in any way. So far, they have made no comment.
No vote on the bill was made today; more debate will be heard--and new amendments possibly introduced--in the coming days.