Joliet Criminal Defense Lawyers Explain the Severity of Property Seizure
Facing any type of criminal charge is a serious matter that has the potential to severely impact your life, regardless of whether or not you are convicted of the charge. Simply spending a night in jail or being brought up on charges can have an adverse effect on your reputation within the community, and paying a bail bond, fines, or legal defense fees can quickly become a financial burden. Depending on the type of crime with which you are charged, you may also be subject to asset forfeiture. This means that the state may take money, freeze your accounts, or seize personal property that they claim is associated with the crime you have been accused of committing.
At Sabuco, Beck, Hansen, Massino & Pollack, P.C., our experienced Illinois criminal defense attorneys understand the serious economic impacts that can occur as the result of having your assets or property seized. Property seizure and asset forfeiture do not only happen to serious career criminals and drug kingpins, but also to otherwise good people who have been caught in difficult circumstances. Once the state or federal government has seized your property, it can be an uphill battle to get it back again, even if your charges are dropped.
Illinois Drug Property Forfeiture
Under the Illinois Compiled Statutes (725 ILCS 150/2), your money or property may be seized if it is determined that it was gained from or in any way associated with illegal drug activity or facilitated the manufacture, sales, distribution, use or possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia.
Under the Illinois Drug Asset Forfeiture Procedure Act, your assets may be seized prior to conviction of any drug activity. Once the police or government authority seizes your property, a preliminary hearing is held within 14 days to determine if there was probable cause for making the seizure. The usual rules of evidence do not apply at this hearing, and a judge can order that your property be held based simply on the basis of the criminal charges that were filed against you. The following types of property and assets may be seized:
- Cash on hand;
- Money in bank accounts;
- Cars, motorcycles, and other means of transportation;
- Real estate, such as your home or other land that you own; and
- Personal property such as computers, jewelry, clothing, and home furnishings.
You may file a claim for the return of your property within 45 days of having your property seized. You are required to pay a 10 percent deposit of the total amount of the seized property to the clerk of court, as well as court costs associated with the proceedings.
Property Forfeitures are Increasing
According to the Illinois Policy Institute, an independent government watchdog group, law enforcement took in more than $5 billion as the result of asset forfeiture in 2014. The group claims that millions of dollars’ worth of cash and assets are taken in each year in Illinois with little to no government oversight and that there is little recourse for the people who have their property seized. While criminal forfeiture requires charges to be filed and in certain cases, a conviction to be made, civil asset forfeiture allows the police to seize property of people allegedly involved in criminal activity regardless of whether or not they have been charged. Police departments are then allowed to use the money and property from these seizures however they wish, making asset forfeiture a profitable way to increase funds.
Call Our Experienced Will County Criminal Attorneys Today
If you are facing charges in a criminal matter, you need aggressive legal representation to ensure your rights are protected and that law enforcement does not seize your hard-earned assets or property. At Sabuco, Beck, Hansen, Massino & Pollack, our team of experienced Will County criminal defense attorneys have the knowledge you need to handle your case. We provide you with the hard-hitting legal defense that gets results. With offices throughout Will County and the surrounding area, call Sabuco, Beck, Hansen, Massino & Pollack, P.C. today at (815) 730-8860 for an initial consultation.