Civil Asset Forfeiture Policy

An Analysis of New Hampshire and Relevant States
PRS Briefs
PRS Policy Brief 1718-06
Friday, March 23, 2018

As a result of the policy changes promulgated by Attorney General Sessions, federal Civil Asset Forfeiture policy has changed. Most notably, the Equitable Sharing Program has been revived, which gives state and local law enforcement agencies the ability to use federal law to seize assets. New Hampshire has the second most stringent standard for seizing assets, making the use of the federal rule more common among its law enforcement agencies. Given the significant federal changes, it is imperative that policymakers understand the ramifications and adjust New Hampshire law accordingly, recognizing the multiple facets and concerns regarding Civil Asset Forfeiture policy. A controversial issue, Civil Asset Forfeiture policy has legal, political, and constitutional implications that should be considered. While many argue that Civil Asset Forfeiture is necessary to destroy criminal organizations and stop illegal activity, there are strong opponents who believe it is a violation of civil liberties.  Analysis of New Hampshire policy and that of other states shows varying standards that fit into four main policy categories. Through a state by state analysis, New Hampshire policy is compared to policies from a state adhering to each of these categories.