West Virginia has poor civil forfeiture laws. The government must demonstrate that property is related to a crime and subject to forfeiture by a mere preponderance of the evidence, a standard much easier for law enforcement than proving criminal guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. And the burden is on owners for innocent owner claims, making owners effectively guilty until proven innocent.When money is seized and forfeited, all of the proceeds go to law enforcement: 10 percent goes to the prosecuting attorney, and 90 percent goes to a law enforcement investigation fund. Although there is no requirement in West Virginia that law enforcement officials collect information on forfeiture, a January 2009 article in the Register Herald offered some insight into the way police in Beckley, W.V., used forfeiture proceeds. In 2008, the article reported, police brought in $65,000 and six vehicles through forfeiture. Forfeiture revenue provided some of the funding to buy a $10,000 K-9 police dog for the department.
1 Pridemore, A. A. (2009, January 31). Drug war strategy: Hit ‘em in their wallets. Retrieved September 25, 2009, from http://www.register-herald.com/homepage/local_story_031223004.html.
Forfeitures as Reported to LEMAS (Drug-related only)
Assets Forfeited per
Law Enforcement Agency
Equitable Sharing Proceeds from the Assets Forfeiture Fund (AFF)