Asset Forfeiture Report: Minnesota


 


 
Grades*
Forfeiture
Law Grade

State Law Evasion Grade

 Final
Grade
Minnesota

 

Forfeiture Law

 

Minnesota law provides only slight protection for property owners against wrongful forfeitures, as its poor law grade of D shows.  The state’s somewhat higher final grade reflects limited use of equitable sharing to date (an evasion grade of B).  Although state statutes require that the government must show by clear and convincing evidence that the property is connected to drug trafficking and thus forfeitable, this burden is often easily met.  This is because, in practice, few cases are tried.  When they are, the owner is presumed guilty, bearing the burden of showing that he is an innocent owner.[1]  Law enforcement also receives as much as 90 percent of the value of forfeited property,[2] thus providing a profit incentive to law enforcement to focus on civil forfeitures instead of other law enforcement duties.  Nevertheless, as the numbers below indicate, Minnesota law enforcement has used forfeiture relatively modestly in recent years.

However, this changed in 2009.  Then, the consequences of Minnesota’s lax forfeiture laws were on full display with a scandal involving the state’s Metro Gang Strike Force, accused of using its forfeiture power to improperly seize property.  In some instances, officers have been alleged to keep the property for their own personal use.[3]


1 The statute does not refer to an innocent owner defense.  But in Blanche v. 1995 Pontiac Grand Prix, 599 N.W.2d 191 (1999), the court permits an innocent owner defense to be raised without establishing a burden of proof.

 

2 Specifically, 70 percent of the proceeds from common forfeitures go to the law enforcement agency, 20 percent go to the office of the prosecutor, and 10 percent go to the general governmental fund.  Minn. Stat. § 609.5315.

3 Lore, M. (2009, September 18). Criminal defense attorneys seek more protections in forfeiture cases. Retrieved September 25, 2009, from http://www.minnlawyer.com/article.cfm/2009/09/21/Criminal-defense-attorneys-seek-more-protections-in-forfeiture-cases.



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

$3,313,487

$20,000

1997

$13,088,560

$27,291

2000

$2,039,003

$4,500

2003

$4,564,594

$8,665

 

Equitable Sharing Proceeds from the Assets Forfeiture Fund (AFF)

 

Proceeds Returned to State

FY 2000

$1,046,751

FY 2001

$1,348,423

FY 2002

$1,810,187

FY 2003

$1,133,648

FY 2004

$1,369,123

FY 2005

$1,930,861

FY 2006

$1,498,393

FY 2007

$1,960,561

FY 2008

$2,436,864

Total

$14,534,811

Average per Year

$1,614,979

 

Freedom of Information Data

Reports of forfeitures from law enforcement agencies and task forces

 

All Law
Enforcement Agencies

1996

$1,948,424

1997

$1,913,906

1998

$1,208,821

1999

$1,488,157

2000

$501,115

2001

$960,081

2002

$684,454

2003

$1,030,966

2004

$1,312,165

2005

$1,443,026

2006

$3,942,930

2007

$4,318,651

2008

$3,500,434

Total

$24,253,130

Average per Year

$1,865,625



*Learn how states were graded and how data was collected

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