North Dakota Editorial: Civil forfeiture bill HB1286 still needed after court ruling

The law currently allows for civil forfeiture when property was seized in violation of the Fourth Amendment. HB1286 would require the government to show the property was validly seized in the first place.

The bill specifies that funds obtained through civil forfeiture be paid into the attorney general assets forfeiture fund and requires law enforcement agencies to produce annual reports on forfeited property. Law enforcement agencies in North Dakota and across the country have used forfeiture laws like a slush fund to pad their own budgets, with little transparency or oversight. HB1286 would help mitigate the perverse incentives inherent in that approach, and shine needed light on the forfeiture process.