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Connecticut

Connecticut

Connecticut earns a C for its civil forfeiture laws:

Standard of Proof

Higher bar to forfeit: Moderate conviction provision applies in drug, identity theft and sex-trafficking cases, even if forfeiture is uncontested. It does not require conviction of the owner, only that a “person” be convicted. For other crimes, the owner must be convicted. Once conviction provision is satisfied, property must be linked to the crime by clear and convincing evidence.

Innocent Owner Burden

Stronger protections for the innocent: The government must prove third-party owners knew about criminal activity connected to their property.

Financial Incentive

Large profit incentive: In drug cases, 69.5% of forfeiture proceeds go to law enforcement (59.5% to police and 10% to prosecutors); none in all other cases.

Recent Reforms

  • (2017) HB 7146: Created moderate conviction provision.

Recommendations

  • End civil forfeiture
  • Direct all forfeiture proceeds to a non-law enforcement fund
  • Close the equitable sharing loophole
  • Adopt strong transparency and accountability requirements

State and Federal Forfeiture Revenues, 2000–2019

Between 2000 and 2018, Connecticut law enforcement agencies forfeited more than $35 million under state law. Between 2000 and 2019, they generated an additional $51 million from federal equitable sharing, for a total of at least $86 million in forfeiture revenue. Connecticut ranks 28th 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 $86 million in state and federal forfeiture revenue
2000–2019

Year Connecticut Forfeiture Revenues Dept. of Justice Equitable Sharing Proceeds Treasury Equitable Sharing Proceeds Total
2000 $568,270 $704,026 $94,000 $1,366,296
2001 $1,056,994 $1,441,489 $292,000 $2,790,483
2002 $1,707,712 $352,271 $85,000 $2,144,983
2003 $1,559,135 $1,261,087 $31,000 $2,851,222
2004 $2,444,679 $1,350,653 $66,000 $3,861,332
2005 $1,788,705 $2,786,594 $9,000 $4,584,299
2006 $1,977,013 $1,365,596 $284,000 $3,626,609
2007 $2,109,826 $2,014,681 $203,000 $4,327,507
2008 $2,052,703 $1,890,925 $471,000 $4,414,628
2009 $1,923,519 $3,304,928 $23,000 $5,251,447
2010 $2,055,430 $1,859,498 $11,000 $3,925,928
2011 $2,772,132 $1,871,218 $29,000 $4,672,350
2012 $2,274,903 $2,643,752 $67,000 $4,985,655
2013 $1,614,838 $1,455,367 $158,000 $3,228,205
2014 $1,801,784 $8,823,913 $440,000 $11,065,697
2015 $2,211,093 $2,471,987 $460,000 $5,143,080
2016 $2,516,709 $766,241 $354,000 $3,636,950
2017 $1,255,813 $2,970,310 $311,000 $4,537,123
2018 $1,508,503 $2,739,730 $1,113,000 $5,361,233
2019 Unavailable $3,865,363 $837,000 $4,702,363
Totals $35,199,761 $45,939,629 $5,338,000 $86,477,390

All revenue figures include both civil and criminal forfeitures. Revenues are not adjusted for inflation.

Connecticut's Forfeiture Transparency and Accountability Report Card

Tracking Seized Property

C

Accounting for Forfeiture Fund Spending

F

Statewide Forfeiture Reports

F

Accessibility of Forfeiture Records

D

Penalties for Failure to File a Report

Incomplete

Financial Audits of Forfeiture Accounts

F

No reporting requirements to enforce.

For full transparency and accountability grades, visit www.ij.org/TransparencyReportCards.

Forfeitures Under Connecticut Law: Key Facts

Median Value

$665

From 2015 to 2018, half of Connecticut’s currency forfeitures were worth less than $665.

Property Types

From 2000 to 2018, more than nine out of every 10 forfeitures in Connecticut were of currency.

Civil vs. Criminal

From 2000 to 2015, 71% of forfeited properties were processed under civil, not criminal, forfeiture laws.

Expenditures

UNKNOWN

Connecticut does not report how forfeiture funds are spent.

Data Notes and Legal Sources

Data Notes

Property-level calendar-year proceeds were obtained via public records requests to the Connecticut Chief State’s Attorney. Figures represent cash and property sold from forfeitures. Equitable sharing data are from DOJ’s and Treasury’s annual forfeiture reports. Due to differences in reporting and accounting practices, state figures may not match aggregate numbers produced by the state or cover the same 12-month period as the federal data.

Legal Sources

Standard of proof: Moderate conviction provision applies in drug, identity theft and sex-trafficking cases, even when forfeiture is uncontested. The provision does not require conviction of an owner, but only of a “person.” For other crimes, the owner must be convicted. After the conviction provision is satisfied, property must be linked to the crime by clear and convincing evidence.

Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. §§ 54-33g(a)–(c), (f), h(b), 554-36(c), h(c), o(b), o(c) (“court shall hold a hearing”), p(b)–(c).

Innocent owner burden: Government.

Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 54-33g(a)–(b), -36h(b)–(c), o(b)–(c), p(b)–(c); see, e.g., State v. One 2002 Chevrolet Coupe, No. CV2200243, 2003 WL 824266, at *3–4 (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).

Financial incentive: 69.5% (59.5% to police, 10% to prosecutors) in drug cases. In other cases, none.

Compare Conn. Gen. Stat. § 54-36i(c) with id. §§ 54-33g(d)–(e), -36o(g), p(g).

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