Policing for Profit

Texas 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: Up to 70% of forfeiture proceeds go to law enforcement in cases where property is forfeited by default; up to 100% where forfeiture is contested.

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

  • None.


  • 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 2001 and 2018, Texas law enforcement agencies forfeited more than $781 million under state law. Between 2000 and 2019, they generated an additional $744 million from federal equitable sharing, for a total of at least $1.5 billion in forfeiture revenue. Texas ranks 47th 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 $1.5 billion in state and federal forfeiture revenue

Year Texas Forfeiture Revenues Dept. of Justice Equitable Sharing Proceeds Treasury Equitable Sharing Proceeds
$0 ↦ $104,811,155
2000 Unknown $22,576,969 $8,944,000
2001 $18,983,273 $19,668,285 $2,679,000
2002 $7,294,323 $14,419,530 $2,284,000
2003 $43,416,158 $13,659,504 $5,524,000
2004 $40,798,353 $19,386,146 $10,391,000
2005 $29,491,437 $17,123,807 $11,114,000
2006 $37,588,776 $28,859,716 $11,290,000
2007 $49,414,291 $36,200,059 $14,434,000
2008 $56,615,941 $29,552,435 $12,376,000
2009 $56,100,475 $24,414,415 $12,903,000
2010 $41,094,790 $40,515,365 $23,201,000
2011 $50,748,640 $30,401,129 $14,518,000
2012 $32,103,359 $31,520,522 $35,193,000
2013 $62,926,509 $34,960,588 $5,084,000
2014 $50,353,075 $26,594,306 $10,199,000
2015 $54,693,932 $28,681,997 $17,739,000
2016 $50,693,121 $18,435,232 $8,673,000
2017 $49,564,600 $28,814,312 $5,517,000
2018 $49,717,176 $31,590,213 $9,142,000
2019 Unavailable $18,573,207 $7,677,000
Totals $781,598,229 $515,947,737 $228,882,000
Department of Justice
All revenue figures include both civil and criminal forfeitures. Revenues are not adjusted for inflation.
Download Revenue Data Download Expenditurs Data

Texas Forfeiture Transparency and Accountability Report Card

D Tracking Seized Property
A Accounting for Forfeiture Fund Spending
D Statewide Forfeiture Reports
A Accessibility of Forfeiture Records
C Penalties for Failure to File a Report
A Financial Audits of Forfeiture Accounts

Forfeitures Under Texas Law: Key Facts

Median Value

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

Property Types

Texas does not report the types of property forfeited.

Civil vs. Criminal

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


From 2013 to 2018, Texas law enforcement spent $266 million from forfeiture funds—nearly half on equipment and capital expenditures and another quarter on personnel.

Data Notes

Agency-level forfeiture data were obtained via public records requests to the Texas Attorney General. Figures represent cash and proceeds of sold property. All figures are in the reporting agencies’ respective fiscal years. Figures for 2008 through 2018 exclude interest. 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.

Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Ann. art. 59.05(b).

Innocent owner burden: Owner.

Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Ann. art. 59.02(c), (h)(1).

Financial incentive: Up to 70% in cases where a default judgment is entered; up to 100% in contested cases.

Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Ann. art. 59.06(c), (c-3); see also Tex. Att’y Gen. Op. GA-0122 (Nov. 18, 2003) (noting 70–30 split between district attorney and Department of Public Safety).