Further Results Concerning the Effects of Asset Forfeiture on Policing

22 Pages Posted: 21 Aug 2015

See all articles by Brian D. Kelly

Brian D. Kelly

Seattle University - Department of Economics

Date Written: August 19, 2015


Earlier work evaluated the association of asset forfeiture with the clearances of crimes reported to police and with the distribution of arrests by type. This paper provides further results concerning the impact of forfeiture on policing.

Asset forfeiture refers to a government seizure of assets that are the instrumentalities or fruits of a crime. Criminal forfeiture requires the criminal conviction of the owner of the assets. However, forfeiture often occurs even when a crime is not prosecuted. Under civil forfeiture, the property itself is the defendant and generally does not have the “beyond a reasonable doubt” protection afforded to people; instead, the standard of proof is usually a weaker standard, such as probable cause or preponderance of the evidence. The actual owner of the property has the status of a third party intervener and may bear the burden of proof to show that the asset is not implicated in a crime. If the seizure of an asset is not challenged by the owner, a non‐judicial, administrative forfeiture occurs. The low standards of proof, the locus of the burden of proof, and widespread use of administrative and civil forfeiture raise difficult civil rights questions. Even more controversial, however, is the fact that police agencies often can retain the cash and other assets that they seize. This has led to accusations that civil forfeiture encourages “policing for profit.”

Keywords: asset forfeiture, policing, crime, drug policy

JEL Classification: H39, H71, K42

Suggested Citation

Kelly, Brian D., Further Results Concerning the Effects of Asset Forfeiture on Policing (August 19, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2647629 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2647629

Brian D. Kelly (Contact Author)

Seattle University - Department of Economics ( email )

900 Broadway
Seattle, WA 98122
United States

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