Asset Forfeiture Report: Utah


 


 
Grades*
Forfeiture
Law Grade

State Law Evasion Grade

 Final
Grade
Utah

 

Forfeiture Law
From 2000 to 2004, Utah law was relatively protective of property owners, but no longer.  Today, while the government must prove property is related to a crime subject to forfeiture by clear and convincing evidence, a relatively high standard, and the government bears the burden in innocent owner contests for most forfeitures, 100 percent of property seized and forfeited in connection to alleged controlled substance offenses is allocated to law enforcement through the Crime Reduction Assistance Program.

These laws are partly the product of a sustained effort by law enforcement to reverse a voter initiative protecting property rights.  In 2000, nearly 70 percent of Utah voters passed a measure that eliminated allocation of forfeited money to law enforcement.[1]  But law enforcement was determined.  Rather than obey the new law, some county prosecutors persisted in diverting some of the forfeited money into their own accounts.  Pressure from a group of citizens helped end this practice.  No longer able to use the proceeds from forfeiture, police signaled that they no longer had as much interest in the practice.  One remarked that “[d]oing forfeiture [was now] way down the line in [his] priorities.”[2]  But in 2004, the police succeeded in having the initiative overturned by the state legislature, so now 100 percent of proceeds once again go to police and prosecutors.[3] 

Despite a requirement that information on the use of forfeiture be collected, Utah officials did not respond to requests for data.


1 Institute for Justice. (n. d.). Ending prosecution for profit in Utah: Citizens demand prosecutors follow state’s civil forfeiture law. Retrieved September 25, 2009, from http://www.ij.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1063&Itemid=165.

2 Bullock, S. (2003, October). IJ helps end Utah’s prosecution for profit. Retrieved September 25, 2009, from http://www.ij.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1435&Itemid=194.

3 Dobner, J. (2004, March 3). Lawmakers overturn 2000 forfeiture law. Retrieved September 25, 2009, from http://www.deseretnews.com/article/595046371/Lawmakers-overturn-2000-forfeiture-law.html.



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

$1,740,560

$56,292

1997

$1,587,495

$12,130

2000

$1,298,007

$10,384

2003

$275,165

$2,892

 

Equitable Sharing Proceeds from the Assets Forfeiture Fund (AFF)

 

Proceeds Returned to State

FY 2000

$226,524

FY 2001

$199,037

FY 2002

$3,357

FY 2003

$0

FY 2004

$619,006

FY 2005

$245,948

FY 2006

$1,001,545

FY 2007

$1,229,094

FY 2008

$1,524,820

Total

$5,049,331

Average per Year

$561,037

 

Freedom of Information Data
No Data Available; Required to Collect, But Did Not Respond to Request


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