President and General Counsel
||State Law Evasion Grade|| Final
|Oklahoma has terrible civil forfeiture laws, and its statutes give law enforcement significant financial incentives to seize property. To forfeit property in civil proceedings, the government typically must show that property is related to a crime and subject to forfeiture by a preponderance of the evidence. In all civil forfeitures in Oklahoma, owners are presumed guilty and must contest forfeiture by proving they did not know property was being used illegally. Worse, law enforcement receives 100 percent of the proceeds from civil forfeiture.When assets are seized by the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control, the Bureau can agree to share the proceeds with other law enforcement agencies. There are some limits on the amount of forfeited funds the Bureau can spend, but the cap was raised substantially in 2007. Previously, the Bureau needed to seek permission of the legislature to spend more than $900,000 of forfeited funds. Since 2007, that cap is $2,000,000. Oklahoma law enforcement officials have used civil forfeiture laws aggressively, averaging more than $5.5 million per year in forfeiture proceeds between 2000 and 2007.
1 63 Ok. St. 2-503(F)(2).
Arlington, Va.—It’s called policing for profit and it’s happening all across America. Oklahoma’s laws and practices make it among the worst abusers in the nation. Under a practice called “civil forfeiture,” police and prosecutors’ offices seize private property—often without ever charging the owners with a crime, much less convicting them of one—then keep or sell…