BILL ANALYSIS Senate Appropriations Committee Fiscal Summary Senator Christine Kehoe, Chair 318 (Calderon) Hearing Date: 05/18/2009 Amended: 05/05/2009 Consultant: Jacqueline Wong-HernandezPolicy Vote: Public Safety 6-0 _________________________________________________________________ ____ BILL SUMMARY: SB 318 provides mandatory forfeiture procedures for any property interest acquired through the commission of dogfighting. _________________________________________________________________ ____ Fiscal Impact (in thousands) Major Provisions 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 Fund State Mandated Local Program unknown, potentially significant costs General District Attorneys Mandatory court actions unknown, potentially significant costs General _________________________________________________________________ ____ STAFF COMMENTS: This bill meets the criteria for referral to the Suspense File. This bill requires an individual being convicted of dogfighting to be subject to forfeiture of a property interest, whether tangible or intangible, that was acquired through the commission of dogfighting. This bill establishes a procedure to be followed by the district attorney who prosecuted the case, which specifies that the prosecutor must seek forfeiture or property, that there must be a court hearing unless all parties agree to waive it, and that the hearing be decided by a jury (either the same or a new jury, at the discretion of the court). The prosecutor is responsible for proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the property was acquired through the commission of dogfighting. Under existing law, all property used to commit a crime is subject to forfeiture. In cases of dogfighting, this often includes dogs, cages, training equipment, transport vans, etc. These items can be sold, upon a conviction. This bill would require prosecutors to seek additional property that was obtained by the money made through dogfighting. Often, dogfighting operations are run by individuals involved in other criminal activities and/or make money from the crime of dogfighting. They own property of value that was purchased with the proceeds of the illegal enterprise. Currently, prosecutors can and do seek property forfeiture for certain convicted individuals, under provisions of the law not specifically related to dogfighting. This makes the process more difficult for prosecutors, and this bill would streamline the process for prosecutors who were already planning to seek forfeiture, which would likely reduce court time and expense. The Los Angeles District Attorney's Office report that it prosecutes approximately 70 cases of dogfighting annually, and seeks property forfeiture (outside of the property directly connected with the crime, which is already forfeited) in about 10% of those cases. Page 2 SB 318 (Calderon) This bill, however, will likely increase overall court and prosecution costs, because it requires prosecutors to seek property forfeiture in every dogfighting conviction. Currently, prosecutors decide whether or not to pursue property forfeiture based primarily on whether or not the property interest in question is substantial enough to warrant the additional expense. It is unclear whether all dogfighting cases that resulted in this additional forfeiture would yield property of enough value to reimburse the courts for their expenses. Moreover, to the extent that local district attorneys are not reimbursed for their expenses, the state could be billed because this bill constitutes a reimbursable state-imposed local mandate. Staff recommends to minimize this fiscal impact, that the bill be amended to provide prosecutors with the option of seeking forfeiture under these provisions.