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Nebraska

Nebraska

Nebraska earns a C for its forfeiture laws:

Standard of Proof

Highest bar to forfeit: Nebraska has only criminal forfeiture.

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: 50% 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

  • (2016) LB 1106: Abolished civil forfeiture and replaced it with criminal forfeiture; set a standard of clear and convincing evidence to forfeit property following a criminal conviction; imposed new limits on participation in federal equitable sharing; adopted new transparency requirements.

Recommendations

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

State and Federal Forfeiture Revenues, 2000-2019

Between 2016 and 2018, Nebraska law enforcement agencies forfeited more than $7 million under state law. Between 2000 and 2019, they generated an additional $76 million from federal equitable sharing, for a total of at least $83 million in forfeiture revenue. Nebraska ranks 18th for its participation in the Department of Justice’s equitable sharing program. However, in 2016, the state prohibited federal forfeiture of locally seized property worth less than $25,000 for equitable sharing.

At least $83 million in state and federal forfeiture revenue
2000–2019

Year Nebraska Forfeiture Revenues Dept. of Justice Equitable Sharing Proceeds Treasury Equitable Sharing Proceeds Total
2000 Unknown $2,089,356 $7,000 $2,096,356
2001 Unknown $1,536,488 $22,000 $1,558,488
2002 Unknown $826,487 $0 $826,487
2003 Unknown $3,949,404 $687,000 $4,636,404
2004 Unknown $3,358,978 $341,000 $3,699,978
2005 Unknown $2,284,353 $20,000 $2,304,353
2006 Unknown $5,348,456 $12,000 $5,360,456
2007 Unknown $4,087,991 $55,000 $4,142,991
2008 Unknown $4,929,203 $0 $4,929,203
2009 Unknown $6,472,205 $17,000 $6,489,205
2010 Unknown $3,829,511 $0 $3,829,511
2011 Unknown $4,510,690 $56,000 $4,566,690
2012 Unknown $2,750,340 $1,548,000 $4,298,340
2013 Unknown $2,662,935 $150,000 $2,812,935
2014 Unknown $2,389,119 $1,861,000 $4,250,119
2015 Unknown $1,788,035 $3,238,000 $5,026,035
2016 $854,988 $1,532,866 $1,721,000 $4,108,854
2017 $2,687,352 $1,522,233 $605,000 $4,814,585
2018 $3,992,148 $3,055,843 $1,699,000 $8,746,991
2019 Unavailable $2,224,424 $2,936,000 $5,160,424
Totals $7,534,488 $61,148,917 $14,975,000 $83,658,405

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

Nebraska's Forfeiture Transparency and Accountability Report Card

Tracking Seized Property

C

Accounting for Forfeiture Fund Spending

F

Statewide Forfeiture Reports

B

Accessibility of Forfeiture Records

B

Penalties for Failure to File a Report

F*

Financial Audits of Forfeiture Accounts

F

* Agencies must file even when they have nothing to report.

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

Forfeitures Under Nebraska Law: Key Facts

Median Value

$996

From 2016 to 2018, half of Nebraska’s currency forfeitures were worth less than $996.

Property Types

From 2016 to 2018, 44% of Nebraska’s forfeitures were of currency.

Civil vs. Criminal

N/A

Nebraska processes all forfeitures under criminal law.

Expenditures

UNKNOWN

Nebraska does not report how forfeiture funds are spent.

Data Notes and Legal Sources

Data Notes

Property-level data are from the Nebraska Auditor of Public Accounts website. Calendar-year figures represent value of forfeited currency and property forfeited and include retained and destroyed property. 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: Criminal forfeiture.

Neb. Rev. Stat. §§ 28-416(18), -431(6), -813.01(5), -1111, -1463.06; -1601; State v. Franco, 594 N.W.2d 633, 639–40 (Neb. 1999).

Innocent owner burden: Owner.

Neb. Rev. Stat. §§ 28-431(5)–(6), -1601(3).

Financial incentive: 50%.

Neb. Const. art. VII, § 5(2); Neb. Rev. Stat. § 28-1439.02.

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