Policing for Profit

Idaho earns a D- for its civil forfeiture laws

Low bar to forfeit and no conviction required

Poor protections for innocent third-party property owners

As much as 100% of forfeiture proceeds go to law enforcement

State Forfeiture Laws

Idaho’s civil forfeiture laws earn a D- for putting property owners at risk. Law enforcement agents need only tie property to a crime by a preponderance of the evidence—a low bar to forfeit. Under Idaho law, innocent owners wishing to retrieve seized property bear the burden of proving their innocence of any crimes to which their property has been linked. Idaho law enforcement agencies also enjoy a strong incentive to forfeit property because they are able to retain up to 100 percent of the proceeds.

Because the Gem State has no statutory reporting requirements, law enforcement’s forfeiture activity is far from transparent. The limited data the Institute for Justice was able to track down from state police suggest that Idaho’s law enforcement agencies probably only modestly pursue civil forfeitures, but there are no records providing a comprehensive picture of forfeiture activity in the state.

State Law Sources

Standard of proofPreponderance of the evidence.
Idaho Code § 37-2744(d).
Innocent owner burdenOwner.
Idaho Code §§ 37-2744(d)(3)(D)(IV) (conveyances), 37-2744A(d)(4) (real property).
Profit incentiveUp to 100 percent.
Idaho Code §§ 37-2744(e), 57-816(1).
Reporting requirementsNone

Idaho is the 8th best state for federal forfeiture, with over $5 million in Department of Justice equitable sharing proceeds from 2000 to 2013.

State Forfeiture Data

No data available. Agencies are not required to track or report their forfeitures.

Federal Equitable Sharing

Idaho law enforcement performs better than most in terms of its equitable sharing behavior, ranking eighth nationally. Idaho’s law enforcement agencies brought in over $5 million in Department of Justice equitable sharing proceeds between 2000 and 2013, averaging nearly $384,000 per calendar year. The majority—80 percent—of Idaho agencies’ equitable sharing income comes from joint task forces and investigations, the procedures largely unaffected by the DOJ’s 2015 policy change. Indeed, just 26 assets, or 11 percent of DOJ equitable sharing seizures, were adopted between 2000 and 2013—an average of fewer than two assets per calendar year. The DOJ reform mainly targets adoptions, not joint task forces and investigations. Idaho law enforcement also brought in $2.5 million in Treasury Department funds between fiscal years 2000 and 2013, averaging almost $180,000 annually.

(calendar years)
(fiscal years)
Average Per Year$383,919$179,929