Property seizure bill passes hurdle in Senate

Politics

Our KELOLAND News investigation last year exposed how the state could keep someone’s property indefinitely if a crime occurred there.

Now lawmakers are considering doing something about that.

Tuesday the State Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill that would give property owners more rights when it comes to seizure.

Mike Verley is the landlord who was locked out of his lake home for years after a murder occurred in the basement.

Verley was renting out the home to tenants. He testified before lawmakers on the issue.

“The purpose of this bill and the reason for the bill is to give some checks and balances,” Verley said.

“I want to make sure this doesn’t happen to another citizen in South Dakota, where real property is seized and held for a lengthy period of time,” Bill Sponsor Sen. Jack Kolbeck said.

The bill received support from both the Attorney General’s office and State’s Attorneys Association.

Senate Bill 176 would allow an innocent property owner to apply for the return of the property 30 days after it was seized. If the prosecutor couldn’t show that holding it was essential to the case, the court may release it to the owner.

The bill now goes to the full Senate.

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