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Starting Forfeiture Programs: A Prosecutor's Guide

NCJ Number
J E Ferris
Date Published
44 pages
This guide is intended to provide prosecutors with an understanding of the legal and operational questions that must be considered or answered before initiating an asset forfeiture program as part of an effort to address drug trafficking.
The guidelines emphasize that asset forfeiture programs can be extremely productive or can be frustrating and disappointing endeavors, depending largely on how carefully the goals and procedures to be used are planned. Planning establishes the parameters of the program and provides a framework in which to communicate the program's objectives to everyone involved. This planning should include the analysis of existing forfeiture statutes and a determination of how each one operates and might fit into a forfeiture program. Related statutes that can be used in a forfeiture program should also be examined. The operational plan should identify the problem, evaluate the investigative and prosecutorial commitments to the program, provide for adequate training and preparation, determine the availability of resources for the program, target cases, and make decisions regarding plea bargaining and forfeiture settlements. The management of seized assets also needs careful consideration. Reference notes and appended sample legal forms.