Georgia has terrible civil forfeiture laws and uses equitable sharing extensively. Under state law, depending on the property, the government need only establish probable cause or a preponderance of the evidence that the property was connected to illegal activity to forfeit it. You bear the burden of showing that the property is not derived from illegal activity or that you are an innocent owner. Even worse, law enforcement keeps 100 percent of the proceeds from any sales of seized property, which creates a strong incentive for law enforcement to seize property even in situations where it may not be warranted. And public oversight is limited: In response to requests, Georgia provided only one year of forfeiture data, for 2001.These broad laws have led officials to abuse forfeiture—including for personal gain. One sheriff in Georgia, for instance, used the funds raised through forfeiture to purchase a $90,000 sports car, supposedly to advertise an anti-drug program. In 2008, a grand jury was tasked with trying to figure out if that expenditure was “appropriate.”
1 The Sheriff’s Stash. (2008, July 12). The Economist, 388(8588), p. 42.
Forfeitures as Reported to LEMAS (Drug-related only)
Assets Forfeited per
Law Enforcement Agency
Equitable Sharing Proceeds from the Assets Forfeiture Fund (AFF)