Highest bar to forfeit: New Mexico has only criminal forfeiture.
Stronger protections for the innocent: The government must prove by clear and convincing evidence that a third-party owner knew about the criminal use of their property.
No profit incentive: All forfeiture proceeds, beyond some retained to cover related expenses, go 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 2015 and 2018, New Mexico law enforcement agencies forfeited more than $377,000 under state law. Between 2000 and 2019, they generated an additional $50.8 million from federal equitable sharing, for a total of at least $51.1 million in forfeiture revenue. New Mexico ranks 4th for its participation in the Department of Justice’s equitable sharing program. The state also directs all forfeiture proceeds, including equitable sharing proceeds, to the general fund, effectively eliminating agencies’ incentive to participate.
At least $51.1 million in state and federal forfeiture revenue
|Year||New Mexico Forfeiture Revenues||Dept. of Justice Equitable Sharing Proceeds||Treasury Equitable Sharing Proceeds||Total|
All revenue figures include both civil and criminal forfeitures. Revenues are not adjusted for inflation.
New Mexico does not report property-level data necessary to calculate median forfeiture value.
Reported forfeitures were too few for further analysis.
New Mexico processes all forfeitures under criminal law.
New Mexico does not permit law enforcement agencies to spend forfeiture revenue.
Property-level data are from the New Mexico Department of Public Safety website. Figures represent calendar-year forfeitures and include currency forfeited and market value of forfeited property. Reported forfeitures were too few for further analysis. Equitable sharing data are from DOJ’s and Treasury’s annual forfeiture reports. Due to differences in reporting and accounting practices, state figures may not match aggregate numbers produced by the state or cover the same 12-month period as the federal data.
Standard of proof: Criminal forfeiture.
N.M. Stat. Ann. § 31-27-4.
Innocent owner burden: Government. When a person claims to be an innocent owner and shows an ownership interest, the government must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the person had actual knowledge of the underlying crime giving rise to the forfeiture.
N.M. Stat. Ann. § 31-27-7.1(D).
Financial incentive: No financial incentive. All proceeds must be deposited in the general fund,
though agencies can retain part of the proceeds from criminal forfeiture to cover related expenses.
N.M. Stat. Ann. § 31-27-7(B).