Friday, January 16, 2009

In new tactic, L.A. goes after gangs' money - Yahoo! News

New Los Angeles gang tactic could yeild dividends, and not just in putting criminals behind bars. In civil suits, the City is seizing the personal assets of gang leaders and members to pay fines. Under criminal statutes, property associated with the crimes, like guns, are obviusly seized. But under new laws, prosecutors and county attorneys can institute civil proceedings to sieze assets associated with criminal behavior, i.e. cars, but also the non-criminal personal assets, like homes, furniture, even clothing, to pay civil fines and enforce judgments.
The civil suits were filed under different amendments to state laws, one passed in 2007 and one in 2008, designed to strengthen authorities' ability to control gangs. The 2007 amendment allows law enforcement to seize assets associated with criminal conduct. But the 2008 law goes even further – it allows prosecutors to collect damages from gang members' personal assets, too.

The December suit against the 18th Street gang is the first to make use of the 2008 amendment.

"We're sending a message to gang leaders across this city," said City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo at a press conference last month. "If you break the law, we will not only find you, arrest you, and put you behind bars, we will also take away your money, your property, your homes, and your cars. Every penny we strip away will be returned to the neighborhoods."
It is a tactic that has been used against the mafia and against white supremicists in federal cases, but this is the first successful actions under California state law.

I would expect other states to start mimicking the statutes as well.

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