Ethical Considerations for Asset Forfeiture

Course Provider: Program Management and Training Unit of the Department of Justice, Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section (MLARS)


Course Description:

The Ethical Considerations for Asset Forfeiture eLearning course is provided by the Department of Justice. Asset forfeiture is an important and vital law enforcement tool.   It helps strengthen cases, weaken or dismantle criminal enterprises, and return assets to victims of crimes.  But like all tools, law enforcement and prosecuting authorities must use it appropriately.  The purpose of this training is to ensure a command of when and how to properly seize assets for federal forfeiture so that you can protect the rights of the public while also protecting your case and yourself.  Misusing asset forfeiture laws and ignoring asset forfeiture policies can have serious implications. The course is divided into the following five modules:

Module 1 – Overview and Purposes of Asset Forfeiture

This module discusses some of the numerous ways that asset forfeiture fulfills the mission of law enforcement.

Module 2 – Concerns about Asset Forfeiture

This module discusses three criticisms of forfeiture: corruption, fairness, and a lack of accountability.

Module 3 – Asset Forfeiture Best Practices

This module provides some best practices when considering the seizure of assets.

Module 4 – Federal and State Cooperation

This module discusses how state and local law enforcement can cooperate with their Federal law enforcement counterparts to ensure a successful and proper seizure and forfeiture of assets.

Module 5 – Asset Forfeiture Resources

This module provides links to additional references and resources discussed in this course.


Primary Audience:

This course is ideal for sworn law enforcement officers of all ranks and positions.


About Course Provider:

The Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section (MLARS) leads the Department’s asset forfeiture and anti-money laundering enforcement efforts. MLARS provides leadership by: (1) prosecuting and coordinating complex, sensitive, multi-district, and international money laundering and asset forfeiture investigations and cases; (2) providing legal and policy assistance and training to federal, state, and local prosecutors and law enforcement personnel, as well as to foreign governments; (3) assisting Departmental and interagency policymakers by developing and reviewing legislative, regulatory, and policy initiatives; and (4) managing the Department’s Asset Forfeiture Program, including distributing forfeited funds and properties to appropriate domestic and foreign law enforcement agencies and to community groups within the United States, as well as adjudicating petitions for remission or mitigation of forfeited assets. To this effect, MLARS is comprised of seven units and associated teams.

The Program Management and Training Unit is responsible for several nationwide law enforcement initiatives, working groups, and programs, including the transfer of forfeited funds to victims of crime, the Equitable Sharing Program, and real property transfers. Each of these programs involves the transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars to victims, as well as state and local law enforcement, and requires consistent nationwide policies and oversight to ensure that forfeited proceeds are distributed in accordance with the laws, regulations, and policies that govern them. The Unit is also responsible for the oversight and nationwide training of all federal prosecutors, agents, analysts, and support staff on asset forfeiture, money laundering, and financial investigations, which includes the development of curricula, training tools, and educational materials. In addition, the Unit is responsible for asset forfeiture and money laundering communications, including the development and publication of all asset forfeiture and money laundering publications.


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