Life, Liberty, and Property: Civil Forfeiture in New Hampshire

New Hampshire’s “Live Free or Die” ethos is instantly recognizable; the state’s commitment to individual liberties is an integral part of its identity. Yet today in New Hampshire and elsewhere in the United States, law enforcement officers can take an individual’s property without convicting the owner of a crime. Under this process, known as civil asset forfeiture, the burden is on the owner to prove that the assets are innocent in order to reclaim seized property.

Critics have argued that civil asset forfeiture creates perverse incentives, since it is currently easier to seize property than it is to convict someone, and since proceeds from seizures often end up going directly into law enforcement budgets. Indeed, a recent study by the Institute for Justice gave New Hampshire a “D-” grade and called its civil forfeiture laws “a threat to property owners.” Between direct seizures by state agencies and revenue-sharing agreements with federal law enforcement, New Hampshire has taken nearly $19 million in civil forfeiture proceeds since 2000.

Is civil asset forfeiture a legitimate law enforcement tool, or is it an excessive overreach by the state? How does civil asset forfeiture fit into the broader national discussion surrounding criminal justice and policing reform?

Please join the Charles Koch Institute for a conversation with criminal justice experts who will explore these and other important questions.


John Stossel, host of “Stossel” on the Fox Business Network


Gilles Bissonnette, legal director, ACLU of New Hampshire
Robert A. Peccola, attorney, Institute for Justice
Vikrant Reddy, senior research fellow, Charles Koch Institute

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