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What is Asset Forfeiture in Illinois?

Posted on in Criminal Law

Rolling Meadows, IL defense attorney

There are many consequences that can come with breaking the law. Depending on the crime, you could face community service, probation, fines, restitution, and in some cases, jail time. Another consequence of certain crimes can be asset forfeiture, where the government takes your belongings if they believe they are connected to a crime. This can be problematic, especially if you are innocent of the charges you face. 

Both the state and the federal government can seize assets if they believe they were acquired in illegal ways. According to the Illinois State Police and the U.S. Department of Justice, the state of Illinois has taken more than $319 million in assets from citizens since 2005, while the federal government has seized more than $404 million during the same period. If you are facing a seizure of your assets, it is important to have a criminal defense attorney by your side who will fight for you.

Asset Forfeiture Program

Asset forfeiture is a tool many state law enforcement agencies and the federal government use to combat criminal activity. Asset seizure and forfeiture occurs when a law enforcement agency permanently takes away your personal property and/or assets. As long as the property is believed to be involved or connected with illegal activity or gained through illegal means, the government can seize it. Items that can be seized can include things such as money, real estate, vehicles, weapons, or any other item that is believed to have been gained illegally.

Criminal vs. Civil Forfeiture

Criminal forfeiture is not very common because the action of forfeiture is filed against the person, and that person must be suspected or convicted of criminal activity before the seizure can take place. In a civil forfeiture, the action is taken against the property itself, so there is no need for a criminal conviction or trial. Rather, there must be a preponderance of evidence suggesting that the property was involved in or acquired through illegal ways.

When Can Police Seize My Assets?

There are a number of ways law enforcement can seize your property. In Illinois, you can face asset forfeiture if:

  • Your property is suspected to have been used in the commission of any drug crime or gained through money obtained from illegal activity involving drugs;
  • Your vehicle is suspected to be connected to crimes such as DUI, murder, and sexual assault;
  • You have money or property connected to a money laundering case;
  • You are suspected to be a member of a street gang or corrupt organization;
  • You are suspected to be involved in narcotics racketeering; or
  • You are suspected to be involved with child pornography, human trafficking, animal fighting, or terrorism.

A Rolling Meadows, IL Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help

As a citizen of the United States, you should not have to worry that the government will seize your personal property if you are not guilty of a crime. Scott F. Anderson, Attorney at Law is prepared to fight for your rights and your property. If you are facing forfeiture of your personal property, contact a skilled Arlington Heights, IL criminal defense lawyer. Whether you are suspected of illegal drug activity or white-collar crime, we can help. Contact our office by calling 847-253-3400 to schedule a free consultation.

Sources:

https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/white-collar-crime/asset-forfeiture

https://www.illinoispolicy.org/reports/asset-forfeiture-in-illinois/

https://www.aclu-il.org/en/legislation/civil-asset-forfeiture-reform

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