Somewhat higher bar to forfeit: Prosecutors must provide clear and convincing evidence that property is connected to a crime.
Limited protections for the innocent: Generally, third-party owners must prove their own innocence to recover seized property, but the government bears the burden in cases involving legally titled or registered property and property valued above $15,000.
Large profit incentive: In general, up to 100% of forfeiture proceeds go to law enforcement; 90% in juvenile cases.
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 2010 and 2012, Ohio law enforcement agencies forfeited more than $25 million under state law. Between 2000 and 2019, they generated an additional $208 million from federal equitable sharing, for a total of at least $233 million in forfeiture revenue. Ohio ranks 41st for its participation in the Department of Justice’s equitable sharing program. However, in 2017, the state prohibited federal forfeiture of locally seized property worth less than $100,000 for equitable sharing.
At least $233 million in state and federal forfeiture revenue
|Year||Ohio 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.
Ohio does not report property-level data necessary to calculate median forfeiture value.
Ohio does not report the types of property forfeited.
Ohio does not report whether forfeitures are processed under civil or criminal forfeiture law.
Ohio does not report how forfeiture funds are spent.
Agency-level reports of calendar-year forfeitures were obtained via public records request to the Ohio Attorney General. In 2012, the requirement for agencies to report to the AG was eliminated. 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: Clear and convincing evidence. Charging provision requires charges to be filed, and stays civil forfeiture while criminal charges are pending, but does not require conviction. The charging provision does not apply to forfeitures of cash over $15,000 or in cases where an owner dies, is unavailable or fails to contest forfeiture.
Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2981.05(A), (C–D), (H).
Innocent owner burden: Depends on the property. Generally, the owner bears the burden of proof. But for legally titled or registered property and in cases involving property valued over $15,000 (adjusted annually for inflation), the government bears the burden.
Ohio Rev. Code Ann. §§ 2981.03(A)(4–5), -.05(D)(3), (D)(7); see also id. § 2981.04(E)–(F) (placing burden on third-party claimants).
Financial incentive: Up to 100% in general; up to 90% in juvenile cases.
Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2981.13(B)(4).