What You Need to Know About Civil Asset Forfeiture

Posted on in Your Rights

Illionois defense attorney, Illinois federal crimes lawyer, Illinois criminal defense lawyerCivil asset forfeiture is a mechanism federal law enforcement officials use to seize the property and possessions of people they come into contact with if they believe that the property is involved in criminal activity.

Authorities justify using this mechanism because they argue that a person is not entitled to profits from criminal activity. In reality, this process is used in a much broader manner. In fact, civil asset forfeiture can be utilized even when no one is charged or convicted of a federal crime.

How Common Is Civil Asset Forfeiture?

According to the ACLU, approximately $40 million annually in cash, automobiles and even homes is taken from Illinois residents through civil asset forfeiture. Civil asset forfeitures are expected to be on the rise. In July 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated that under his leadership, federal authorities will aim to increase civil forfeitures:

“With care and professionalism, we plan to develop policies to increase forfeitures. No criminal should be allowed to keep the proceeds of their crime.”

What Do Critics of Asset Forfeiture Argue?

Critics of asset forfeiture argue that it is wrong to permanently take the property of people who have not been convicted or charged with a crime.

In addition, forfeiture programs are set up so that the authorities that seize the property get to keep the property. Thus, this procedure is a source of funding, and authorities are incentivized to seize assets when the opportunity presents itself in the field.

What Steps Need to Be Taken If Your Property Has Been Seized?

To successfully get back your seized property, you must prove two things in a court proceeding. First, you must prove that you were not involved in criminal activity. Second, you must prove that you either had no knowledge that your possessions were being used to enable criminal activity or that you took every reasonable step to end such use.

Contact a Chicago, IL Federal Asset Forfeiture Lawyer

If you have been affected by civil asset forfeiture, you are not entitled to a lawyer as you would be if you were charged with a crime. This means you must retain counsel or represent yourself.

By hiring an effective Chicago, IL federal crimes attorney, your best arguments will be made in court. Your challenge to a civil asset forfeiture must be brought within a certain period of time. Call our firm today by dialing 312-629-0669.


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