Somewhat higher bar to forfeit some property: For motor vehicles, real property and currency up to $1,000, prosecutors’ standard is clear and convincing evidence. A very weak conviction provision requires conviction of the owner when a person’s primary residence is at stake. For all other property, the standard is preponderance of the evidence.
Stronger protections for the innocent: The government must prove third-party owners knew about criminal activity connected to their property.
No profit incentive: All forfeiture proceeds go to the general fund.
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.
From 2010 to 2012 and 2015 to 2018, the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department forfeited nearly $5 million under District law. Between 2000 and 2019, it generated an additional $7 million from federal equitable sharing, for a total of at least $12 million in forfeiture revenue. The District of Columbia ranks 7th for its participation in the Department of Justice’s equitable sharing program. In 2015, D.C. prohibited federal adoption of locally seized property for equitable sharing
At least $12 million in District and federal forfeiture revenue
|Year||District of Columbia Forfeiture Revenues||Dept. of Justice Equitable Sharing Proceeds||Treasury Equitable Sharing Proceeds||Total|
All revenue figures include both civil and criminal forfeitures. Revenues are not adjusted for inflation. Different state revenue sources for 2010–2012 and 2015–2018.
The District of Columbia does not report property-level data necessary to calculate median forfeiture value.
The District of Columbia does not report the types of property forfeited.
The District of Columbia does not report whether forfeitures are processed under civil or criminal forfeiture law.
The District of Columbia does not permit law enforcement agencies to spend forfeiture revenue.
Calendar-year reports for 2010 through 2012 were obtained via public records request to MPD. MPD did not provide records in response to a request for 2013 and 2014 forfeiture records. Fiscal-year records for 2015 through 2018 are from reports on the D.C. Council’s Legislative Information Management System website. Equitable sharing data are from DOJ’s and Treasury’s annual forfeiture reports. Due to differences in reporting and accounting practices, figures may not match aggregate numbers produced by the District or cover the same 12-month period as the federal data.
Standard of proof: In general, preponderance of the evidence. The standard of proof increases to clear and convincing evidence for vehicles, real property and currency up to $1,000. Weak conviction provision requires conviction of “an owner,” but only for contested forfeitures of a primary residence.
D.C. Code §§ 41-308(d)(1), (4), -302(c); see id. § 41-305(c) (procedure when uncontested).
Innocent owner burden: Government.
D.C. Code §§ 41-302(b), -308(d)(1).
Financial incentive: No financial incentive. All currency and proceeds from sales of forfeited property must be deposited in the general fund.
D.C. Code § 41-310(a)(2)–(3).