State legislators and Gov. Cuomo reached a major agreement in the state's war against drugs, which includes new legislation allowing police to seize houses, cash and other property connected to drug sales.
The tentative agreement, which has been sought for several years, was announced late Friday night after negotiators agreed on how these new funds would be distributed among law enforcement agencies and drug treatment programs.
Last year, Assembly Democrats balked at the legislation because it did not give adequate protection to homeowners.
Under the new proposal, a homeowner can lose his property if he or she knows it is being used as a drug den or for some other drug-related activity. Prosecutors also must prove that the property owner consented to that illegal activity or that the landlord substantially profited from such activity.
For the first time, the new forfeiture law also could be used in non-felony drug cases, such as tax prosecutions.
Other provisions of the law include:
Confidential subpoenas can be issued by courts prior to an arrest to freeze bank accounts.
One trial, instead of two separate proceedings, would be used to determine if a defendant is guilty and whether assets should be seized.
Police and prosecutors must file many reports to determine how this new law is used.
Local governments would retain a role in this process.
Any property that is used to carry out drug trafficking can be seized under this new law.
Sen. Dale Volker, R-Depew, a leading sponsor of a similar measure, said he was pleased with the tentative agreement. He expressed optimism that the measure will be approved before the Legislature adjourns this weekend.