Center for Problem-Oriented Policing

POP Center Responses Asset Forfeiture Page 12

Appendix C: National Code of Professional Conduct for Asset Forfeiture

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  1. Law enforcement is the principal objective of forfeiture. Potential revenue must not be allowed to jeopardize the effective investigation and prosecution of criminal offenses, officer safety, the integrity of ongoing investigations, or the due process rights of citizens.
  2. No prosecutor's or sworn law enforcement officer's employment or salary shall be made to depend upon the level of seizures or forfeitures he or she achieves.
  3. Whenever practicable (excluding border searches, exigent circumstances, etc.) and in all cases involving real property, a judicial finding of probable cause shall be secured when property is seized for forfeiture. Seizing agencies shall strictly comply with all applicable legal requirements governing seizure practice and procedure.
  4. If no judicial finding of probable cause is secured, the seizure shall be approved in writing by a prosecuting or agency attorney or by a supervisory-level official.
  5. Seizing entities shall have a manual detailing the statutory grounds for forfeiture and all applicable policies and procedures.
  6. The manual shall include procedures for prompt notice to interest holders, the expeditious release of seized property where appropriate, and the prompt resolution of claims of innocent ownership.
  7. Seizing entities retaining forfeited property for official law enforcement use shall ensure that the property is subject to internal controls consistent with those applicable to property acquired through the normal appropriations process of that entity.
  8. Unless otherwise provided by law, forfeiture proceeds shall be maintained in a separate fund or account subject to appropriate accounting controls and annual financial audits of all deposits and expenditures.
  9. Seizing agencies shall strive to ensure that seized property is protected and its value preserved.
  10. Seizing entities shall avoid any appearance of impropriety in the sale or acquisition of forfeited property.

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