Poor protections for innocent third-party property owners
100% of forfeiture proceeds go to law enforcement
State Forfeiture Laws
Kansas has some of the worst civil forfeiture laws in the country, earning a D-. State law requires only a preponderance of the evidence in order to establish a connection between property and a crime, thus making the property forfeitable. Individuals bringing an innocent owner claim bear the burden of proving that they were not involved in any criminal activity to have their seized property returned. Furthermore, Kansas law enforcement agencies keep 100 percent of forfeiture proceeds. Although the Kansas attorney general has ruled that forfeiture funds may only be used for special law enforcement projects and not to meet normal operating expenses, this still provides considerable incentive to seize.
Each Kansas law enforcement agency must deposit its forfeiture proceeds into a special law enforcement trust fund maintained by its budgetary authority—such as a city council or the state Legislature—and make annual reports to that authority. Unfortunately, state law does not require that these reports be standardized or filed with a central entity, meaning that obtaining an accurate picture of all forfeiture activity in the Sunflower State would require submitting a Kansas Open Records Act request to every law enforcement agency or budgetary authority in the state and then compiling those records. This process does not hold law enforcement agencies accountable, nor does it provide the public with any understanding of forfeiture activity in the state.
State Law Sources
Standard of proof
Preponderance of the evidence. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 60-4113(g).
Innocent owner burden
Owner. Kan. Stat. Ann. §§ 60-4112(g)–(h), 60-4113(g)–(h).
100 percent. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 60-4117(c)–(d); cf. Kan. Att’y. Gen. Op. No. 2007-15, 2007 Kan. AG LEXIS 16, at *7 –8, 2007 WL 2021740 (July 6, 2007) (determining that forfeiture proceeds may be applied to special law enforcement projects, but cannot be used as a regular funding source).
Seizing agencies are required to submit forfeiture reports to their budgetary authorities. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 60-4117(d)(1)–(2).
Kansas ranks 38th for federal forfeiture, with nearly $52 million in Department of Justice equitable sharing proceeds from 2000 to 2013.
State Forfeiture Data
No data readily available. While law enforcement agencies are required to make reports to their budgetary authorities, there is no requirement that those reports be centralized or made easily accessible to the public.
Federal Equitable Sharing
Having received nearly $52 million in Department of Justice equitable sharing proceeds between calendar years 2000 and 2013, Kansas law enforcement agencies earn their state a ranking of 38th. Fifty-eight percent of DOJ equitable sharing proceeds came from adoptions—the forfeiture procedure curtailed by former Attorney General Holder. The remainder came from joint task forces and investigations, the type of equitable sharing largely unaffected by the 2015 policy change. Kansas agencies also received $1.4 million from the Treasury Department’s equitable sharing program between fiscal years 2000 and 2013.