Asset Forfeiture Report: New York


Law Grade

State Law Evasion Grade

New York


Forfeiture Law
New York law provides some protection for property owners caught up in civil forfeiture, but the state’s law enforcement agencies are among the nation’s most aggressive in pursuing equitable sharing with the federal government.  Under New York civil forfeiture law, the government’s standard of proof to conduct a forfeiture depends on the property being pursued.  For real property that was used as an instrumentality of the crime, the government must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the property is related to the crime and can be forfeited.  For other property, the government only needs to show by a preponderance of the evidence that the assets were the instrumentality or proceeds of the crime.  Moreover, the property owner bears the burden in innocent owner claims.  Law enforcement may keep up to 60 percent of the proceeds seized.  The state received more than $237 million through equitable sharing between 2000 and 2008. 

Although New York “reformed” its asset forfeiture regime in 1990, it actually further encroached on the property rights of its citizens as a result of the reform.  For example, money located near controlled substances is now presumptively forfeitable—in effect, presumed guilty.  The property owner has a significant burden placed on him to overcome this presumption.

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

Assets Forfeited per
Law Enforcement Agency














Equitable Sharing Proceeds from the Assets Forfeiture Fund (AFF)


Proceeds Returned to State

FY 2000


FY 2001


FY 2002


FY 2003


FY 2004


FY 2005


FY 2006


FY 2007


FY 2008




Average per Year



Freedom of Information Data

1990-2002:Reports of forfeitures from district attorneys and task forces;
2008: Reports of forfeitures by county 


District Attorneys

Task Forces
















Other Property






*Learn how states were graded and how data was collected

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