New Jersey civil forfeiture laws offer scant protection to property owners. The government only needs to show by a preponderance of the evidence that the seized property is related to criminal activity. Once shown, the owner bears the burden of proving that the property was not forfeitable, making him guilty until proven innocent. The property owner must show that he was not aware of the criminal activity, was not involved with the criminal activity and took all reasonable steps to prevent the criminal activity. Law enforcement keeps 100 percent of the funds forfeited, creating an incentive to pursue forfeiture over other law enforcement efforts. Moreover, New Jersey officials are not required to track and report forfeitures and proceeds.A New Jersey Superior Court judge ruled that the forfeiture regime violated constitutional due process because of the profit incentive imbedded in it. Unfortunately, the appellate division overruled the district judge and reinstated the incentive provision.
1 See: Bullock, S. (2003). Court seizes the day: New Jersey civil forfeiture laws declared unconstitutional. Retrieved September 25, 2009, from http://www.ij.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1425&Itemid=194.
2 State v. One 1990 Ford Thunderbird, 852 A.2d 1114 (2004).
Forfeitures as Reported to LEMAS (Drug-related only)
Assets Forfeited per
Law Enforcement Agency
Equitable Sharing Proceeds from the Assets Forfeiture Fund (AFF)