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Connecticut earns a C for its civil forfeiture laws:

  • Higher bar to forfeit property, but no conviction required
  • Stronger protections for innocent third-party property owners
  • 69.5% of forfeiture proceeds go to law enforcement

State Forfeiture Laws

The Constitution State’s forfeiture laws earn a C because they provide some degree of property rights protection, though this protection should be stronger. In Connecticut, the standard of proof for forfeiture requires the government to offer clear and convincing evidence that the property is related to criminal activity and therefore forfeitable. The burden is on the government to disprove an innocent owner’s claim of innocence regarding an alleged illegal use of seized property. However, law enforcement agencies are permitted to keep 69.5 percent of the proceeds of civil forfeiture (59.5 percent for police, 10 percent for prosecutors), providing a substantial incentive to seize.

Although Connecticut has no statutory reporting requirement—it only requires that agencies maintain a seized property inventory—the Institute for Justice was able to obtain reports of forfeitures from the Connecticut Office of the Attorney General. Connecticut is one of only two states—Oregon being the other—to provide reports that distinguish between civil and criminal forfeitures. State forfeiture data show that civil forfeiture cases constituted an astounding 77 percent of all Connecticut forfeiture cases between 2009 and 2013, meaning that less than one-quarter of all forfeitures in the state were achieved using procedures that required the government to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the property owner had committed a crime.

Show State Law Sources
Standard of proof

Clear and convincing evidence.

Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 54-36h(b), 54-36p(b).

Innocent owner burden


Conn. Gen. Stat. § 54-36h(b)–(c); see, e.g., State v. One 2002 Chevrolet Coupe, No. CV2200243, 2003 Conn. Super. LEXIS 458, at *8–9, 2003 WL 824266 (Conn. Super. Ct. Jan. 23, 2003) (holding innocent owner could recover her property because state failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that she knew about her son’s illegal activities).

Profit incentive

69.5 percent (59.5 percent to police, 10 percent to prosecutors), except in cases of sexual exploitation, prostitution and human trafficking, when 100 percent of proceeds go to a victims’ compensation fund.

Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 54-36i(c), -36p(f).

Reporting requirements

Seizing agencies must maintain an inventory of seized property.

Conn. Gen. Stat. § 54-36a(b)(1).

State Forfeiture Data

Reported Forfeiture Proceeds

Year Civil Criminal Total
2009 $1,325,293 $579,116 $1,904,409
2010 $1,732,822 $299,570 $2,032,392
2011 $2,266,271 $505,701 $2,771,972
2012 $992,381 $1,272,299 $2,264,680
2013 $724,599 $824,709 $1,549,309
Total $7,041,366 $3,481,395 $10,522,761
Average per year $1,408,273 $696,279 $2,104,552

Reported Forfeiture Cases

Year Civil Criminal Total
2009 1,040 199 1,239
2010 1,026 138 1,164
2011 923 107 1,030
2012 604 206 810
2013 157 462 619
Total 3,750 1,112 4,862
Average per year 750 222 972

Source: Calendar-year reports of forfeitures carried out by state and local law enforcement. These data were obtained from the state Office of the Attorney General through a Connecticut Freedom of Information Act request made by the Institute for Justice. The state provided a value only for forfeitures of cash and property sold, not property retained for official law enforcement use.

Connecticut ranks 22nd for federal forfeiture, with over $24 million in Department of Justice equitable sharing proceeds from 2000 to 2013.

Federal Equitable Sharing

Connecticut law enforcement’s use of the Department of Justice’s equitable sharing program results in a 22nd place national ranking. Between 2000 and 2013, Connecticut law enforcement received over $24 million in DOJ equitable sharing proceeds, or an average of $1.7 million per calendar year. A colossal 93 percent of proceeds resulted from joint task forces and investigations—the type of practice largely unaffected by the DOJ’s recent equitable sharing policy change. Connecticut law enforcement also received $1.8 million from the Treasury Forfeiture Fund during the fiscal years 2000 to 2013.

View Local Law Enforcement Data
(calendar years)
(fiscal years)
2000 $1,170,123 $94,000
2001 $727,051 $292,000
2002 $323,163 $85,000
2003 $1,645,321 $31,000
2004 $1,385,505 $66,000
2005 $2,265,211 $9,000
2006 $1,933,600 $284,000
2007 $1,938,407 $203,000
2008 $3,490,829 $471,000
2009 $1,750,561 $23,000
2010 $1,973,711 $11,000
2011 $1,910,586 $29,000
2012 $2,235,644 $67,000
2013 $1,468,788 $158,000
Total $24,218,501 $1,823,000
Average Per Year $1,729,893 $130,214

DOJ Equitable Sharing,
Adoptive vs. Joint, 2000-2013

Joint Task Forces and Investigations

DOJ Equitable Sharing Proceeds, 2000-2013

Sources: Institute for Justice analysis of DOJ forfeiture data obtained by FOIA; Treasury Forfeiture Fund Accountability Reports. Data include civil and criminal forfeitures. Because DOJ figures represent calendar years and Treasury figures cover fiscal years, they cannot be added.

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