Asset Forfeiture Report: California


 


 
Grades*
Forfeiture
Law Grade

State Law Evasion Grade

 Final
Grade
California

 

Forfeiture Law
Compared to most other states, California’s forfeiture laws provide better protections to property owners and do not provide as strong of a profit incentive to law enforcement to take property.  For the government to forfeit property in California, it must have, at a minimum, clear and convincing evidence for cash associated with criminal activity and requires a beyond a reasonable doubt standard for forfeiting real property.  Furthermore, when an innocent person with an interest in the property seeks to protect that interest, the burden is on the government to show that the owner knew about the property’s illegal use.  Law enforcement in California keeps 65 percent of all revenues generated through civil forfeiture.

However, the behavior of law enforcement officials tells a different tale.  Given that California places greater limits on state and local governments in forfeiting property, it should not be surprising that it aggressively participates in equitable sharing with the federal government, collecting an astonishing $305 million in an eight-year period from 2000 to 2008.  In 2000, California legislators voted to forbid state and local agencies from using the federal equitable sharing loophole except in limited circumstances, but then-Governor Gray Davis vetoed the measure.



Press Releases and News

State Press Release

 

From the Report: Canine Sniffs Yield Unreliable Evidence for Forfeiture
 
   
   
     



 
 


 

 

Forfeitures as Reported to LEMAS (Drug-related only)

 

Total Assets
Forfeited

Assets Forfeited per
Law Enforcement Agency

1993

 

$115,223,229

$309,383

1997

$93,636,748

$178,040

2000

$61,450,257

$153,793

2003

$42,460,049

$109,029

 

Equitable Sharing Proceeds from the Assets Forfeiture Fund (AFF)

 

Proceeds
Returned to State

FY 2000

$29,532,158

FY 2001

$32,530,454

FY 2002

$26,435,779

FY 2003

$24,259,920

FY 2004

$30,972,798

FY 2005

$26,389,562

FY 2006

$41,901,452

FY 2007

$42,226,537

FY 2008

$51,699,292

Total

$305,947,952

Average per Year

$33,994,217

 

Freedom of Information Data

Reports of forfeitures by county; types and number of law enforcement agencies unclear

 

Total amount of assets

Total number of assets

2002

$25,565,686.24

3,029

2003

$26,589,893.34

3,345

2004

$22,459,345.80

3,512

2005

$19,866,809.89

3,685

2006

$25,582,483.48

3,877

2007

$27,603,821.74

4,062

2008

$25,548,227.54

4,490

Total

$173,236,268.03

26,000

Average per Year

$24,748,038.29

3,714



*Learn how states were graded and how data was collected

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