Sessions and DOJ announce guidelines on asset seizures

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The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke to law enforcement officials Wednesday announcing the department’s new policy on the civil asset forfeiture program to “better protect victims of crime and innocent property owners” while making it easier to dismantle criminal and terrorist groups.

Former attorney general Eric Holder had limited the seizure of assets and who could share in the proceeds, but Session said the new guidelines “will return us to longstanding DOJ policy” and “make us more effective at bankrupting organized criminals.”

He promised that the federal government “will not adopt seized property unless the state or local agency involved provides information demonstrating that the seizure was justified,” and added, “The Department will adopt smaller seizures of cash—between $5,000 and $10,000—only if there exists some level of criminality or with the express concurrence of the U.S. Attorney’s office.”

The new guidelines are available HERE.

The following are additional remarks from Sessions, according to the press release from the Justice Department:

“Civil asset forfeiture is a key tool that helps law enforcement defund organized crime, take back ill-gotten gains, and prevent new crimes from being committed, and it weakens the criminals and the cartels. Even more importantly, it helps return property to the victims of crime. Civil asset forfeiture takes the material support of the criminals and instead makes it the material support of law enforcement, funding priorities like new vehicles, bulletproof vests, opioid overdose reversal kits, and better training. In departments across this country, funds that were once used to take lives are now being used to save lives.

“It also removes the instrumentalities of crimes, such as illegal firearms, ammunition, explosives and property associated with child pornography from criminals—preventing them from being able to use these tools in further criminal acts.

“President Trump has directed this Department of Justice to reduce crime in this country, and we will use every lawful tool that we have to do that. We will continue to encourage civil asset forfeiture whenever appropriate in order to hit organized crime in the wallet.”

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