Lake County, Indiana attorneys uncertain about future of asset forfeiture after landmark SCOTUS ruling

In 2017, the Lake County prosecutor’s office filed 48 forfeiture cases that returned $74,940 for police, $29,615 for prosecutors and $45,327 for the outside lawyers who handled the civil judgments, according to county records.

Such proceeds represent a tiny fraction of what Lake County police and prosecutors spend each year. The county budget for 2019, for example, includes $31 million for the prosecutor’s office and $19.2 million for county police.

As Martinez explains it, seizures of luxury cars or big drug money stashes can be lucrative for police, but they’re relatively rare in Lake County. The most common type of forfeiture is an older model car — “beaters” that are useful for a bit of undercover work and are eventually sold for a few hundred dollars when police are through with them.