Asset forfeiture provides a valuable tool for law enforcement officials, as it helps strike at the economic foundations of criminal activity. It has been used successfully to target a variety of crime problems, ranging from illegal drug sales and street racing to nuisance properties and drunk driving. Forfeiture can also help agencies offset the costs of reducing crime through laws that permit them to receive forfeiture proceeds and equitable sharing arrangements. Yet forfeiture is a controversial practice. Critics cite excessive use of civil, in lieu of criminal, forfeiture due to the former's lower standard of proof, though some studies revealed this does not occur. Critics also oppose the practice of distributing asset forfeiture proceeds among law enforcement agencies. Indeed, researchers and reporters have uncovered some examples of dependence on forfeiture in law enforcement circles and possible distortion of goals in the ongoing war against crime. With due diligence and attention to appropriate codes of professional conduct, law enforcement officials can implement asset forfeiture programs that meet all legal requirements, protect property owners' rights, and effectively target criminal activity.
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