Alabama earns a D- for its civil forfeiture laws.

Standard of Proof

Low bar to forfeit: Prosecutors must prove by “reasonable satisfaction,” a standard akin to preponderance of the evidence, that property is connected to a crime. Update: SB 210 (2021) codified preponderance of the evidence as the state’s standard of proof. This low standard is similar to but better established than the state’s previous standard.

Innocent Owner Burden

Limited protections for the innocent: Third-party owners must prove their own innocence to recover seized property, unless real property is at stake. Update: SB 210 (2021) improved protections for innocent owners. Now, the government must prove third-party owners knew about criminal activity connected to any property, not just real property.

Financial Incentive

Large profit incentive: 100% of forfeiture proceeds go to law enforcement.

The letter grade reflects the state's forfeiture laws as of December 2020. When we become aware of relevant reforms, we are updating the standard of proof, innocent owner burden and financial incentive language above, but we are not updating the letter grade.

Recent Reforms

  • (2019) SB 191: Adopted new transparency requirements.
  • (2021) SB 210: In addition to changes noted above, imposed new limits on participation in federal equitable sharing; banned seizures and forfeitures of cash $250 or less and of vehicles valued at less than $5,000; banned roadside waivers used to pressure motorists into abandoning seized property. Read more.


  • End civil forfeiture
  • Direct all forfeiture proceeds to a non-law enforcement fund
  • Fully close the equitable sharing loophole
  • Strengthen transparency and accountability requirements

State and Federal Forfeiture Revenues, 2000–2019

Between 2000 and 2019, Alabama law enforcement agencies generated more than $104 million in forfeiture revenue from federal equitable sharing. Alabama ranks 36th for its participation in the Department of Justice’s equitable sharing program. The state does not prevent state and local agencies from using equitable sharing to circumvent state forfeiture law.

At least $104 million in federal forfeiture revenue

Year Alabama Forfeiture Revenues Dept. of Justice Equitable Sharing Proceeds Treasury Equitable Sharing Proceeds Total Equitable Sharing Proceeds
$0 ↦ $10,052,687
2000 Unknown $1,898,205 $250,000 $2,148,205
2001 Unknown $2,602,074 $123,000 $2,725,074
2002 Unknown $1,968,319 $269,000 $2,237,319
2003 Unknown $4,216,595 $764,000 $4,980,595
2004 Unknown $6,628,648 $91,000 $6,719,648
2005 Unknown $4,866,686 $373,000 $5,239,686
2006 Unknown $5,314,799 $4,000 $5,318,799
2007 Unknown $8,563,174 $185,000 $8,748,174
2008 Unknown $6,500,693 $19,000 $6,519,693
2009 Unknown $8,321,217 $295,000 $8,616,217
2010 Unknown $8,236,687 $1,816,000 $10,052,687
2011 Unknown $4,608,034 $950,000 $5,558,034
2012 Unknown $8,429,272 $216,000 $8,645,272
2013 Unknown $1,880,420 $252,000 $2,132,420
2014 Unknown $5,095,019 $993,000 $6,088,019
2015 Unknown $3,091,009 $1,876,000 $4,967,009
2016 Unknown $2,338,392 $724,000 $3,062,392
2017 Unknown $1,980,089 $490,000 $2,470,089
2018 Unknown $4,951,811 $253,000 $5,204,811
2019 Unknown 2034629.01 $753,000 2787629.01
Totals $0 $93,525,772 $10,696,000 $104,221,772
Department of Justice
All revenue figures include both civil and criminal forfeitures. Revenues are not adjusted for inflation.

Forfeitures Under Alabama Law: Key Facts

Median Value

Alabama does not report property-level data necessary to calculate median forfeiture value.

Property Types

Alabama does not report the types of property forfeited.

Civil vs. Criminal

Alabama does not report whether forfeitures are processed under civil or criminal forfeiture law.


Alabama does not report how forfeiture funds are spent.

Data Notes

No statewide records available. Alabama had no reporting requirements before the reporting law enacted in 2019. Forfeiture data from the reporting system operated by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency are expected in 2021 from the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center Commission. Equitable sharing data are from DOJ’s and Treasury’s annual forfeiture reports.

Legal Sources

Standard of proof: Reasonable satisfaction, a standard akin to preponderance of the evidence.

Ex parte McConathy, 911 So. 2d 677, 681, 687–88 (Ala. 2005) (overturning forfeiture on grounds that mere suspicion that property was involved in a crime does not meet the “reasonable satisfaction” standard) (citations omitted); see also Alabama Evidence § 3:29 (3rd ed., 2019 update) (explaining that “reasonable satisfaction” is equivalent to the preponderance standard).

Innocent owner burden: Depends on the property. Generally, the owner bears the burden of proof. But for real property, the government bears the burden.

Ala. Code § 20-2-93(h).

Financial incentive: 100%.

Ala. Code § 20-2-93(e).