Civil forfeiture

Civil forfeiture takes away criminal property, such as cash, vehicles and homes, and uses it to help victims and support community programs.

This content doesn’t present legal advice or a statement of law.

For legal details about civil forfeiture in Alberta, consult the Victims Restitution and Compensation Payment Act.


The Alberta government applies for court orders to freeze and forfeit property, such as cash, vehicles and homes, that, based on a police investigation, appears to be gained from or used to commit crime that:

  • is profit-motivated
  • results in serious injury

Police services, the courts, and the government work together in the civil forfeiture process.

Civil forfeiture takes the profit out of crime and makes crime more difficult by taking away criminals’ tools of the trade, such as:

  • vehicles used to deal drugs
  • houses used as drug labs
  • illegal marijuana grow ops

The forfeited cash and the funds generated through the sale of forfeited property are used by the government to:

  • compensate identifiable victims of crime
  • fund community-based programs that support victims of crime and help prevent crime, including:
    • shelters for victims of family violence
    • gang-reduction programs for at-risk communities

In Alberta, forfeited cash and property can’t be used to fund law enforcement, including police training or equipment.

If the owner(s) of the property doesn’t oppose civil forfeiture, then a court hearing isn’t required.

The Victims Restitution and Compensation Payment Act outlines the:

  • government’s authority to conduct civil forfeiture
  • rights of the owner and other people claiming an interest in the property
  • role of the Court

Court hearing

When the owner(s) of the property opposes civil forfeiture, then they and Alberta government representatives attend a court hearing.

If the judge finds the property was gained from or used to commit crime, the judge can order that the property be:

  • returned to any party claiming an interest in the property who proves they both
    • weren’t involved in the crime
    • didn’t know their property was gained from or used to commit a crime
  • sold, with it being used to pay out innocent creditors
  • returned to the original victim(s)
  • sold, with it being used to compensate other victims of crime
  • forfeited to the Alberta government, with it being used to support crime prevention and victims of crime programs

Grants funded

To date, the Alberta government has distributed $7 million in grants to community-based programs.

Future grants

In 2017–18, the government plans to distribute a further $2 million in grants.

The call for grant applications is now closed.

Past grants

In 2014–15, the government distributed $2.8 million in grants between these organizations:

Organization Project Total funding
Community Crisis Society – Region 5 Family Violence Prevention Project $73,750
High Level Community Policing Society Domestic Violence Response Unit $250,000
Servants Anonymous Society of Calgary Ask Services $250,000
Siksika Health and Wellness Siksika Family Violence Response Initiative $200,000
Maskwacis Victim Services Society Aboriginal Outreach Specialist $75,000
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Calgary and Area Ethnocultural Mentoring $150,000
Hull Services New Roads and SNAP $150,000
Miywasin Society of Aboriginal Services (Medicine Hat) Miywasin Youth Development Program $50,000
Central Alberta Women's Outreach Society Red Deer Collaborative Program $100,000
City of Grande Prairie Crime Prevention Department Grande Prairie Cultural Integration Academy $250,000
Lethbridge Family Services Building Bridges: Facilitating Resilience $175,000
YouthLink Calgary Police Interpretive Centre Development of programs and supporting materials for new YouthLink facility $500,000
Bissell Centre Enhanced Supports for Inner City Populations At-Risk of (Re)Victimization $250,000
GLBT Pride Centre of Edmonton Queer Youth Mentoring Program $76,250
REACH Edmonton Council for Safe Communities REACH Immigrant and Refugee Initiative – Addressing Family Violence in a Cultural Context $250,000