On Wednesday, House Bill 1441, introduced by State Rep. Matt Schaefer (R–Tyler) to shift the state’s burden of proof in certain asset forfeiture proceedings, was approved by the Texas House.

Criminal law enforcement agencies currently use asset forfeiture to confiscate cash, belongings, and assets that they suspect are associated with criminal activity.

However, there are very few requirements for legal proof, and recovered assets often provide money to law enforcement agencies.

In his preface to the third reading of HB 1441, Schaefer stated, “This bill pertains to the proceedings in civil court where a person’s property has been seized in asset forfeiture. This bill will ensure that the burden is always on the state of Texas, and raises the standard of proof required from the bare minimum of quandary of evidence to the intermediate standard of prudent convincing evidence, which is below ‘beyond a reasonable doubt.’”

State Rep. Bryan Slaton (R–Royse City) requested a record vote, and the bill passed with a vote of 139-5 and no debate.

Those who voted against the bill were State Reps. Rafael Anchia (D–Dallas), Michelle Beckley (D–Carrollton), Ann Johnson (D–Houston), Ray Lopez (D–San Antonio), and J.M. Lozano (R–Kingsville).

HB 1441 will need to be approved one more time by the Texas House on Thursday before being sent over to the Senate.