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Asset Forfeiture

You can use criminals' ill-gotten gains to help fund your department's war on crime.

February 12, 2010  |  by Joseph Petrocelli - Also by this author

Adoptive Forfeiture

There are hundreds of complicated state and federal laws governing the forfeiture of property. For this, and several other reasons, it is often best for a local police department to team up with a federal agency in a forfeiture case. This process is known as adoptive forfeiture.

By working with a federal agency, your department can foster an environment of cooperation that could be useful for other cases. Your department gains the benefit of the federal agency's experience, as well as its personnel, resources, and expertise. The federal agency usually takes 20 percent of the forfeited property for its efforts.

The adoptive forfeiture process begins when your local department submits a request for adoption. The request is reviewed by the appropriate federal agency. If the case is adopted your local agency must abide by several regulations, including how the forfeited assets can be used.

For the most part it must be agreed that your department will use forfeited assets to enhance its crime fighting mission. This can be done by obtaining more resources and conducting more investigative activities. Such money can be spent on:

  • purchasing equipment
  • paying overtime
  • improving police facilities
  • conducting training
  • building detention facilities
  • conducting D.A.R.E. programs

It's also important to be aware of what forfeited funds cannot be used for. They can't be used to pay the salaries of existing positions or for political or personal purposes. And forfeited property cannot be used by non-law enforcement personnel for non-law enforcement purposes. This probably goes without saying, but it would also be considered inappropriate to use forfeited funds in an extravagant or wasteful way.

An important point to note: Forfeited funds must increase or supplement resources but can never replace them. For example, if an agency receives $100,000 in forfeited funds a city council could not turn around and cut the department's budget by $100,000.

CONTINUED: Asset Forfeiture «   Page 2 of 3   »

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