Higher bar to forfeit in limited cases: Weak conviction provision falls short of criminal forfeiture (see “The Problem with ‘Conviction Requirements’”). It requires the owner’s conviction but does not apply if the owner fails to contest forfeiture, putting the burden on owners to engage in a costly legal battle and making it easy for the government to forfeit without a conviction. It also does not apply if the owner has agreed to help investigators in exchange for immunity or a reduced sentence. Once the conviction provision is satisfied, property must be linked to the crime by clear and convincing evidence. No conviction necessary if property can be connected to a crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
Poor protections for the innocent: Third-party owners must prove their own innocence to recover seized property.
Large profit incentive: Up to 100% of forfeiture proceeds go to law enforcement (any amount above $200,000 in the government’s forfeiture account over any two-year budget period goes to the general fund).
The letter grade reflects the state’s forfeiture laws as of December 2020. When we become aware of relevant reforms, we are updating the standard of proof, innocent owner burden and financial incentive language above, but we are not updating the letter grade.
Between 2000 and 2019, North Dakota law enforcement agencies generated more than $1 million in forfeiture revenue from federal equitable sharing. North Dakota ranks 2nd for its participation in the Department of Justice’s equitable sharing program. The state does not prevent state and local agencies from using equitable sharing to circumvent state forfeiture law.
At least $1 million in federal forfeiture revenue
|Year||North Dakota Forfeiture Revenues||Dept. of Justice Equitable Sharing Proceeds||Treasury Equitable Sharing Proceeds||Total Equitable Sharing Proceeds|
All revenue figures include both civil and criminal forfeitures. Revenues are not adjusted for inflation.
North Dakota does not report property-level data necessary to calculate median forfeiture value.
North Dakota does not report the types of property forfeited.
North Dakota does not report whether forfeitures are processed under civil or criminal forfeiture law.
North Dakota does not report how forfeiture funds are spent.
No statewide records available. North Dakota had no reporting requirements before the reporting law enacted in 2019. The first forfeiture reports, for fiscal year 2020, are expected in late 2020 on the North Dakota Attorney General’s website. Equitable sharing data are from DOJ’s and Treasury’s annual forfeiture reports.
Standard of proof: Weak conviction provision requires an owner’s conviction but does not apply if forfeiture is uncontested or if the owner enters an agreement with the prosecution for immunity or a reduced sentence in exchange for assisting law enforcement. After the conviction provision is satisfied, property must be linked to the crime by clear and convincing evidence. No conviction is necessary if it can be shown beyond a reasonable doubt that the property was used in a crime or constitutes proceeds of criminal activity.
N.D. Cent. Code Ann. §§ 19-03.1-36.2(1–2), -36.5.
Innocent owner burden: Owner.
N.D. Cent. Code §§ 19-03.1-36(1)(e), -36.6(1), -36.7(1), -37(1).
Financial incentive: Up to 100%. However, if the government’s forfeiture fund exceeds $200,000 (exclusive of legislative appropriations and multijurisdictional drug task forces) over any two-year budget period, the excess must be deposited in the general fund.
N.D. Cent. Code §§ 54-12-14, 19-03.1-36(5).