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.



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          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.