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Alabama’s Asset Forfeiture Statutes

On October 24, 2012, in Uncategorized, by Eapen Thampy

Alabama Code § 20-2-93 (Findlaw here) contain the drug civil asset forfeiture statutes, and Alabama Code § 13A-12-200.8 contain the forfeiture statutes enforcing Alabama’s Anti-Obscenity Enforcement Act (Findlaw here).

The Institute for Justice grades Alabama’s forfeiture laws a D in their 2010 “Policing for Profit” report, noting:

Alabama ranks toward the bottom of civil forfeiture laws in the country.  In Alabama, to forfeit property, the government only needs to present a prima facie case the property is related to criminal activity and thus subject to forfeiture.  Thereafter, the burden is usually on the property owner to prove that he is innocent—that the underlying offense was committed without his knowledge or consent—and therefore the property cannot be taken.  However, if the property at issue is real property, like a home, the burden is on the state to prove that the owner is not innocent, providing more protection to owners.

In Alabama, law enforcement keeps 100 percent of the proceeds for 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.  Compounding the problem, there is no requirement in Alabama that state and local law enforcement agencies account for their forfeitures.  In addition, Alabama received more than $40 million in equitable sharing proceeds from 2000 to 2008.

We like to keep track of forfeiture-related developments in the legislature or in the courts. If you have an update, please email Eapen@ForfeitureReform.com

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