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Innocent Until Proven Guilty? Illinois Property Seizure Laws Suggest Otherwise

DuPage County criminal defense attorneysYour Constitutional rights are meant to protect you from wrongful criminal persecution. The cornerstones of our society, they clearly state that you are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Yet, there are some little known laws that can leave you or your loved ones feeling like a victim of the justice system, even if you have done nothing wrong. Long overdue for an overhaul, these laws date back to the 1980s and grant police officials the authority to seize your property without ever having to push for a warrant or even bring criminal charges against you.

Civil Asset Forfeiture Laws in Illinois

Asset forfeiture laws were originally implemented to give police a way to seize the illicit property of suspected drug dealers, burglars, and the like. But, over time, the laws have been used to seize the cars of people who were allegedly caught driving on suspended licenses, money from people who seemed to be “carrying too much cash,” and homes from those who are merely suspected of committing illicit acts from inside of them. No criminal charges have to be brought. No warrant is needed. Officers are able to seize property on little more than mere suspicion, but to get it back, the original owners have to provide compelling evidence that it was not involved with a crime.

Abuse of Power and Victimized Citizens

Proving that your property was not involved in a crime is not as easy as it sounds. It is a time-intensive and often expensive process. First, you have to pay a bond of $100 or 10 percent of the property value (whichever amount is greater) to even have a chance at contesting the seizure. If you lose your case, the local police department can keep up to 80 percent of your bond. Your property will also be sold and all proceeds go to Illinois law enforcement.

From 2000 to 2013, law enforcement brought in more than $200 million in bond forfeitures. From 2009 to 2013, they took in more than 45,000 property seizures valued at more than $113 million. And, in 2010, a former Grant Park Chief of Police was arrested and sentenced to federal prison for allegedly accepting bribes and keeping cash from seized assets. Yet the laws remain the same. Citizens – both those charged with criminal offenses, and those that never face charges – are being taken advantage of.

How Our Criminal Defense Attorneys Can Help

With more than 25 years of experience, Stephen A. Brundage, Attorney at Law, has handled a wide range of criminal matters. Knowledgeable and highly skilled, we can evaluate your situation and guide you in determining the next steps. We are committed to your best interest and are prepared to aggressively represent you, regardless of the complexities you may be facing. Contact our seasoned DuPage County criminal defense attorneys today to schedule your free initial consultation. Call us at 630-260-9647 today.

Sources:

https://www.illinoispolicy.org/police-in-illinois-can-seize-your-property-without-convicting-you-of-a-crime/

https://www.illinoispolicy.org/law-enforcement-now-seizes-more-property-from-citizens-than-burglars/

http://chicago.suntimes.com/opinion/government-shouldnt-seize-assets-without-greater-proof-of-crime/

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