Asset Forfeiture Report: Maryland


 


 
Grades*
Forfeiture
Law Grade

State Law Evasion Grade

 Final
Grade
Maryland

 

Forfeiture Law

Procedurally, Maryland does not afford strong protections to property owners swept up in civil forfeiture, but it does eliminate the profit incentive.  Property can be forfeited under a preponderance of the evidence standard; the government must merely prove it is more likely than not that the property was involved in a crime, a far lower standard than beyond a reasonable doubt.  Property owners are effectively “guilty until proven innocent”:  To contest a seizure, the property owner must prove that the property was wrongfully seized or that the owner did not have actual knowledge of the conduct.  But Maryland civil forfeiture law, unlike most other states, avoids creating a profit incentive for local law enforcement.  All proceeds from civil forfeiture flow to the state general fund or the local governing body. 

With the profit incentive eliminated under state law, Maryland law enforcement can and does still obtain forfeited property by working with federal authorities through adoption and equitable sharing.  Despite the mandate that forfeiture proceeds go the general fund, state law enforcement, working with their federal partners, received more than $50 million in forfeiture revenue from 2000 to 2008.  This end-run around state forfeiture law was challenged in court, but the Maryland Court of Appeals ratified the practice of equitable sharing even when law enforcement failed to obtain a court order permitting the use of the loophole.[1]


1 DeSantis v. State, 866 A.2d 143 (Md. 2005).

 



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

$5,418,380

$68,048

1997

$11,342,965

$103,778

2000

$8,541,208

$141,878

2003

$8,792,725

$58,660

 

Equitable Sharing Proceeds from the Assets Forfeiture Fund (AFF)

 

Proceeds Returned to State

FY 2000

$3,955,415

FY 2001

$3,063,429

FY 2002

$4,626,498

FY 2003

$7,424,604

FY 2004

$6,159,725

FY 2005

$5,635,733

FY 2006

$6,384,843

FY 2007

$8,216,398

FY 2008

$8,052,287

Total

$53,518,932

Average per Year

$5,946,548

 

Freedom of Information Data
No Data Available; Not Required to Collect


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