UPDATE: The ACLU of North Dakota no longer supports House Bill 1286, legislation that deals with civil forfeiture, one of the greatest threats to private property rights in North Dakota.

Originally, House Bill 1286 would have substantially overhauled civil forfeiture, requiring convictions for suspects’ property to be forfeited as well as reporting from law enforcement on seizures and forfeitures.

But conference committee amendments outlining further details in reporting from courts and eliminating the requirement of conviction have essentially gutted the legislation, removing all protections of civil forfeiture the bill was supposed to include.


House Bill 1286 would would deposit all civil forfeiture proceeds into the state school fund, redirecting those funds away from law enforcement coffers. Second, HB 1286 would strengthen due process for property owners facing civil forfeiture. The bill would require a conviction in criminal court before property can be forfeited in civil court.

ACLU position:

Historically, civil forfeiture, which allows police to seize – and then keep or sell – any property they allege is involved in a crime, was focused on a legitimate public safety purpose of stopping drug kingpins and criminal enterprises. It was a way for law enforcement to cripple these large-scale criminal enterprises by diverting their resources.

But today, many North Dakota police departments use forfeiture to benefit their bottom lines, making seizures motivated by profit rather than fighting crime.

That’s why the ACLU of North Dakota originally supported House Bill 1286, legislation that would have substantially overhauled civil forfeiture in our state.

But amendments to the bill before it was passed by both the House and Senate, like the one that removed the requirement of conviction, essentially gutted the legislation, eliminating all the protections the bill was supposed to include.

North Dakota needs real civil forfeiture reform. We need to tell Governor Burgum to veto this bill.

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Reps. Becker, Blum, Johnston, Paur, Pyle, Satrom, Simons, Strinden and Sens. Hogue, Kannianen, Luick, Unruh





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