State Auditor Blaha Releases 2022 Asset Forfeitures and Forfeiture Expenditures in Minnesota Report - September 28, 2023
Data shows 15 percent decrease in asset forfeitures from 2021; 35 percent over the last five years
Saint Paul, MN – “The number of asset forfeitures is down and in line with the five-year trend,” said State Auditor Blaha.
The data in the Asset Forfeitures and Forfeiture Expenditures in Minnesota Report highlights trends in the volume and value of forfeitures, the types of property seized and forfeited, underlying offenses leading to asset seizure and forfeiture, and the way forfeiture proceeds were expended.
“The decrease over the past five years is dramatic,” continued Blaha. “Completed forfeitures are down 35 percent.”
Bipartisan legislation passed in 2021 put new limits on certain cash and vehicle forfeitures, required reporting all forfeitures pursued under federal statutes, and how forfeiture proceeds were expended.
“Due in part to the new forfeiture legislation, the number of completed asset forfeitures decreased by 15 percent between 2021 and 2022,” said Blaha.
In 2022, with fewer completed forfeitures reported to the Office of the State Auditor (OSA), the total net value of forfeitures under $1,500 was $987,601. The total net value of forfeitures under $1,500 in Minnesota in 2021 was approximately $1.2 million.
A five-year look back considers pre-pandemic and pandemic forfeitures, and the backlog of forfeitures that followed.
Law enforcement agencies reported net proceeds of $8.5 million from asset forfeitures in 2022. Net proceeds are derived from forfeited cash, property that was sold, or an agreement or program including but not limited to federal equitable sharing that ensures that the local participating agency receives monetary compensation.
In Minnesota, the most common criminal activities leading to asset forfeiture were Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and controlled substance offenses, which together accounted for 83 percent of the reported forfeitures. Over the last five years, the total number of DUI and controlled substance related forfeitures decreased 44 and 36 percent, respectively.
The largest categories of forfeiture expenditures were capital expenditures, salaries, professional services, and other operating expenses. These four categories accounted for 73 percent of total forfeiture expenditures.
Highlights of the report include:
- In 2022, 275 Minnesota law enforcement agencies reported a total of 5,094 completed forfeitures pursued under state law. Of the 275 law enforcement agencies, 12 reported an additional 186 completed forfeitures pursued under federal law. This compares to 6,217 completed forfeitures in 2021.
- Of the 5,280 completed forfeitures reported in 2022, 3,014 involved seized cash, property that was sold, or an agreement or program including but not limited to federal equitable sharing that required the participating agency to receive monetary compensation. The total value of net proceeds from these forfeitures was $8,501,797.
- In 2022, for all completed forfeitures pursued under state law, gross sales of forfeited property or seized cash totaled $9,028,740; administrative expenses and lienholders’ obligations totaled $11,642,593; amount returned totaled $1,103,557; and net proceeds totaled $6,621,569.
- In 2022, for all completed forfeitures pursued under federal law, total proceeds received through the equitable sharing program totaled $1,880,228.
- The agencies with 100 or more completed forfeitures in 2022 were: the Minnesota State Patrol (1,140); Department of Natural Resources, Enforcement Division (265); Paul Bunyan Drug Task Force (112); and Wright County Sheriff’s Office (110). The number of law enforcement agencies reporting 100 or more completed forfeitures decreased from eight in 2021 to four in 2022.
- In 2022, vehicles accounted for 56 percent of property seized, followed by cash at 24 percent, firearms at 19 percent, and other property at one percent.
- The most common criminal activities leading to seizure, forfeiture, and final disposition of property in 2022 were DUI-related and controlled substance offenses, accounting for 83 percent of the forfeitures. Controlled substance forfeitures accounted for 2,342, or 44 percent, of reported forfeitures, while DUI-related forfeitures accounted for 2,059, or 39 percent, of reported forfeitures. The remaining forfeitures involved fleeing (330), game and fish violations (264), weapons (93), “other” crimes (51), prostitution (50), assault (35), racketeering (24), burglary (17), and robbery/theft (15).
- For 2022, 164 agencies reported that they did not process any property under the forfeiture statutes, compared to 149 in 2021.
- In 2022, 266 Minnesota law enforcement agencies and prosecuting authorities reported total forfeiture expenditures of $8.5 million.
- The largest categories of forfeiture expenditures were capital expenditures, salaries, professional services, and other operating expenses. These four categories accounted for 73 percent of total forfeiture expenditures.
- In 2022, 273 law enforcement agencies and prosecuting authorities reported that did not expend any forfeiture proceeds under the forfeiture statutes.
The Minnesota Legislature authorized local law enforcement agencies to use forfeited property for law enforcement purposes or to sell the property and use the proceeds of the sale for authorized agency activities in 1971. State laws governing property that is subject to forfeiture proceedings, and the actual disposition of the forfeited property, have changed considerably since inception. A more detailed history of Minnesota forfeiture legislation can be found on pages 5-7 of the report.
View the full report on the OSA website.