Bill Would Allow State to Return Evidence

The House has approved a Senate bill designed to speed up the return of items being held as evidence in criminal cases.

North Pole Republican Tammie Wilson said that crime victims sometimes have to wait months — or even years — to get back their property that is used as evidence.  She said the bill sets up a process to let victims petition the courts.

Some of the consequences for not having this process is that it’s gotten to the point where the small business would rather go out to pawn shops and get their equipment back versus go to the police and report it.  Because at least they get their merchandise back.

She said there are safeguards in the bill.  For example, if there is a disputed claim of ownership,  or if physical possession of the property is important to a court case,  the evidence will not be returned.

With technology today, there are ways to take photos,  there’s other ways, even with computer storage, they could have taken the hard drive, given the rest of the computer back and still had the evidence needed to be able to prosecute.  What this does is give a way besides going to court, which costs more money, and waiting until the other court cases get done,  to be able to have a third party look at this and if there’s absolutely no reason to keep the property to get it back to them sooner.

The bill passed unchanged from the version the Senate approved a month ago.  It will next go to the governor for action.

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