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Louisiana

Louisiana

Louisiana earns a D+ for its civil forfeiture laws:

Standard of Proof

Low bar to forfeit: Prosecutors must prove by preponderance of the evidence that property is connected to a crime.

Innocent Owner Burden

Poor protections for the innocent: Third-party owners must prove their own innocence to recover seized property.

Financial Incentive

Large profit incentive: 80% of forfeiture proceeds go to law enforcement (60% to the seizing agencies and 20% to the prosecuting district attorneys’ offices; the remaining 20% goes to the criminal court fund).

Recent Reforms

  • None.

Recommendations

  • End civil forfeiture
  • Direct all forfeiture proceeds to a non-law enforcement fund
  • Strengthen protections for innocent third-party owners
  • Close the equitable sharing loophole
  • Strengthen transparency and accountability requirements

State and Federal Forfeiture Revenues, 2000-2019

Between 2000 and 2018, Louisiana law enforcement agencies forfeited more than $137 million under state law. Between 2000 and 2019, they generated an additional $66 million from federal equitable sharing, for a total of at least $203 million in forfeiture revenue. Louisiana ranks 21st 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 $203 million in state and federal forfeiture revenue
2000–2019

Year Louisiana Forfeiture Revenues Dept. of Justice Equitable Sharing Proceeds Treasury Equitable Sharing Proceeds Total
2000 $4,483,550 $1,993,010 $428,000 $6,904,560
2001 $3,110,304 $1,415,443 $172,000 $4,697,747
2002 $4,800,449 $930,075 $4,513,000 $10,243,524
2003 $4,635,865 $2,158,907 $81,000 $6,875,772
2004 $7,928,592 $1,501,057 $0 $9,429,649
2005 $4,992,415 $1,670,434 $188,000 $6,850,849
2006 $8,242,709 $2,149,234 $1,398,000 $11,789,943
2007 $7,439,139 $2,796,426 $160,000 $10,395,565
2008 $6,665,129 $2,772,516 $560,000 $9,997,645
2009 $8,925,206 $4,039,358 $657,000 $13,621,564
2010 $6,387,868 $2,510,668 $545,000 $9,443,536
2011 $7,902,238 $6,664,987 $331,000 $14,898,225
2012 $8,396,655 $4,935,726 $188,000 $13,520,381
2013 $8,356,682 $1,919,675 $522,000 $10,798,357
2014 $7,079,489 $1,546,928 $522,000 $9,148,417
2015 $6,488,597 $4,138,006 $115,000 $10,741,603
2016 $12,616,134 $1,409,787 $81,000 $14,106,921
2017 $9,782,037 $4,413,440 $34,000 $14,229,477
2018 $9,442,254 $2,639,147 $8000 $12,089,401
2019 Unavailable $3,484,313 $169,000 $3,653,313
Totals $137,675,312 $55,089,137 $10,672,000 $203,436,449

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

Louisiana's Forfeiture Transparency and Accountability Report Card

Tracking Seized Property

F

Accounting for Forfeiture Fund Spending

F

Statewide Forfeiture Reports

B

Accessibility of Forfeiture Records

D

Penalties for Failure to File a Report

F

Financial Audits of Forfeiture Accounts

D

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

Forfeitures Under Louisiana Law: Key Facts

Median Value

UNKNOWN

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

Property Types

UNKNOWN

Louisiana does not report the types of property forfeited.

Civil vs. Criminal

UNKNOWN

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

Expenditures

UNKNOWN

Louisiana does not report how forfeiture funds are spent.

Data Notes and Legal Sources

Data Notes

Forfeiture proceeds reports were obtained via public records requests to the Louisiana Attorney General and Governor. The calendar-year figures represent cash and property sold. 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: Preponderance of the evidence.

La. Stat. Ann. § 40:2612(G).

Innocent owner burden: Owner.

La. Stat. Ann. § 40:2605.

Financial incentive: 80% (60% to the law enforcement agencies that seized the property, 20% to the district attorney’s office(s) that handled the forfeiture action). The remaining 20% goes to the criminal court fund.

La. Stat. Ann. § 40:2616(B)(3).

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