Policing for Profit

Patrick Gibbons

Civil forfeiture laws represent one of the most serious assaults on private property rights in the nation today. With civil forfeiture, police and prosecutors can seize your property and use it to fund their budgets-all without charging you with a crime. Americans are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, but with civil forfeiture, your property is guilty until you prove it innocent-and law enforcement has a huge incentive to police for profit, not justice.

The Institute for Justice’s new report, Policing for Profit, ranks Nevada’s civil forfeiture law a D+. The Institute for Justice report,

Nevada forfeiture law provides paltry protection for property owners from wrongful forfeitures. The government may seize your property and keep it upon a showing of clear and convincing evidence, a higher standard than many states but still lower than the criminal standard of beyond a reasonable doubt. But the burden falls on you to prove that you are an innocent owner by showing that the act giving rise to the forfeiture was done without your knowledge, consent or willful blindness. Further, law enforcement keeps 100 percent of the revenue raised from the sale of forfeited property. Additionally, the revenue must be spent within the year, because any excess more than $100,000 in a forfeiture account is given to local schools. This provision creates an incentive to rely on new forfeitures each year. Nevada law enforcement officials are supposed to report on forfeiture, but they did not respond to requests for information.