January 30, 2015

When Holder’s new federal policy was announced, many questions arose regarding what actual effects will take place when it is implemented. Of course, it is hard to be certain of the policy’s application in the real world until farther down the road where we may analyze the results. There is a large amount of praise for Attorney General Eric Holder’s new civil asset forfeiture policy. However, there are plenty of limitations to be considered when discussing the forfeiture policy.

First of all, general confusion surrounding forfeiture is rooted in the various terms used by the federal government when explaining how they work with local and state police in order to seize assets. The government utilizes the broad term “equitable sharing” to explain any instance the feds and local police use federal forfeiture law in order to split up the assets seized by a joint investigation. On the other hand, the term “adoption” is applied to a subset of equitable sharing cases which have minimal federal involvement. Interestingly, Holder’s new policy will only apply to adoption cases.

This translates to cases when a local police agency only calls up a field office of the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration), the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Explosives, Tobacco, or other Federal law enforcement agency to sign papers with the purpose of getting the case kicked up to federal court. However, when looking at the Department of Justice’s data, adoption cases only make up a small amount of the larger equitable sharing program in general.

There are elements of over-exaggeration when discussing the new policy, as Holder only prohibited adoption. When looking at six-figure figures, this updated policy will restrict around three percent of all federal forfeiture.

Disclaimer: This article has been prepared and published for informational purposes only and is not offered, nor should be construed, as legal advice.