Is a criminal conviction required to forfeit property?
Does forfeited property directly benefit the seizing agency?
Is there a minimum value threshold required for asset forfeiture?
Does the state require a prompt post-seizure hearing to determine
whether the property is subject to forfeiture? Do Administrative Forfeitures reduce due process protections? Does the state place limits or prohibitions on federal adoptions?
Are forfeitures in the state publicy reported?
A criminal conviction is not required to forfeit property in Louisiana, property can be forfeited based on a preponderance of the evidence.
Agencies maintain a financial incentive to forfeit, receiving a portion of all proceeds. There are no exclusions for small dollar amounts, and a hearing is not required. Agencies are required to obtain a seizure warrant. There is no statewide reporting system for forfeiture transparency.
Criminal Conviction Required
A criminal conviction is not required to forfeit property in Louisiana.1 After property is seized, district attorneys file a petition for forfeiture in the parish where the seizure is made, and the forfeiture is handled as a civil matter.2
Louisiana law allows the seizing agency to retain 60% of the proceeds of forfeited property, with 20% going to the district attorneys’ office, and requires the remainder to be deposited to the criminal court fund. This creates a monetary incentive for agencies to pursue forfeitures.
The state could require that all funds be directed to the state to ensure that incentives are aligned correctly, and that law enforcement agencies are funded adequately based on their needs, not their ability to forfeit property.
Louisiana does not exempt small dollar amounts from forfeiture, making it financially disadvantageous for property owners to exercise their constitutional rights.4 Likewise, this may have the effect of incentivizing police to focus on low level offenders.
Louisiana law does not require a prompt post-seizure hearing, but it does require that seizing agencies obtain a seizing warrant from a judge, who must determine whether probable cause exists to seize the property.5
Louisiana has limited statewide forfeiture transparency provisions, although reports are available from individual judicial districts around the state. The state does not aggregate and publicly report the type or value of forfeited property.6 Reporting standards are vague and interpreted differently in each District Attorney’s office, leading to incomparable results.
1. Louisiana State Profile, Policing for Profit, Institute for Justice, https://ij.org/report/policing-for-profit-3/?state=LA
2. La. Stat. Ann. § 40:2612(G)
3. Policing for Profit
4. LA Rev Stat § 40:2604
5. LA Rev Stat § 40:2606
6. Louisiana: An Outlier in Civil Asset Forfeiture, Pelican Institute, https://files.pelicanpolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/An-Outlier-on-Civil-Forfeiture.pdf