Law enforcement agencies in Maine may be breaking the law by failing to report property and cash taken during civil asset forfeitures. These agencies are also required to deposit the proceeds of forfeitures in the state’s general fund, but instead are keeping almost all of it for themselves, sources allege.
Civil asset forfeiture is the process where police can take an individual’s assets if they are suspected of being used in a crime. In most states, a criminal conviction is not necessary for property to be taken. In Maine, while the Office of the Attorney General is required to show that seized property was actually connected to a crime, the required standard of proof is low. In a criminal case, for a conviction, the evidence must be “beyond a reasonable doubt.” In a civil case, such as civil asset forfeiture, however, the standard of proof is much lower, a simple “preponderance of the evidence” is all that is required.