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Relating to the offense of operation of a stash house and to the use of proceeds from a civil asset forfeiture of contraband related to that offense and to human smuggling and trafficking offenses to fund certain crime victim services; creating a criminal offense.
The bill would have an indeterminate fiscal impact to the state due to revenue collections
associated with the creation of the new offense and the expansion of the definition of
contraband effecting property or proceeds being subject to forfeiture. The number of
defendants that would pay court costs and fees and the extent to which property and
proceeds that would be subject to forfeiture would impact revenues is unknown.
HB 2613 would create the offense "operation of a stash house" which is when one uses or permits another to use property they own to commit an offense or to facilitate the commission of the smuggling of persons, the continuous smuggling of persons, trafficking of persons, the continuous trafficking of persons, aggravated promotion of prostitution and compelling prostitution. The offense would also include renting or leasing property with the intent that the property be used for the above offenses. The bill expands what can be defined as contraband in the civil context to allow convictionless civil forfeiture for cases where traditional contraband definitions related to drugs and felonies, don’t apply. New stash house provisions related to civil forfeiture would apply in these instances.
The bill would credit proceeds from the sale of contraband forfeited relating to aggravated promotion of prostitution or compelling prostitution to the special fund of the office of the state's attorney or a law
enforcement agency. The office or agency would be required to use the funds they receive for providing direct
victim services or covering the costs of a contract with a local nonprofit organization to provide
direct victim services.
Texas Action opposes HB 2613 because it violates the principles of property rights and limited government. We oppose civil asset forfeiture regardless of what the proceeds are used for. The government should not be able to seize an individual's property without a related criminal conviction. The burden of proof for civil asset forfeiture is only preponderance of the evidence, this is the lowest burden of proof and property should not be able to be seized having only met this low burden.