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Illinois Reforms Civil Asset Forfeiture Laws

Joliet forfeiture

Effective July 1, 2018, Illinois residents will have greater protection against state confiscation of cars and other assets used in connection with criminal charges such as Aggravated DUI and narcotics possession.

Illinois Residents Forfeit Over $70 Million in Assets Annually

Over $30 million dollars worth of cars, boats, and other assets were seized in 2015 under Illinois’s civil forfeiture laws, namely:

• The Illinois Drug Asset Forfeiture Act , which authorizes the seizure of assets used in, or acquired with funds generated by, drug crimes.

Article 36 of the Illinois Criminal Code: Seizure and Forfeiture of Vessels, Vehicles and Aircraft, which authorizes the seizure of assets used in the commission of other serious crimes such as aggravated DUI, drive-by shootings, and child pornography.

In addition, over $40 million dollars worth of assets were seized from Illinois residents in 2015 under federal law.

Civil Asset Forfeiture Is a Controversial Procedure

Civil asset forfeiture is controversial because it allows law enforcement to seize property they suspect was involved in criminal activity, even though the alleged perpetrator may not even have been convicted of a crime yet.

In some cases, the vehicle allegedly used in a crime does not even belong to the accused, but rather to some innocent friend or relative, who then faces significant hardship and a complicated process to try to get their car back. Even the temporary loss of a vehicle can, according to the Illinois Policy Institute, “precipitate a cascade of negative consequences...including the inability to maintain employment or even to attend court proceedings to try to reclaim the seized property.”

New Law Gives Illinois Residents More Protection from Asset Forfeiture

When assets are seized by an Illinois law enforcement agency in connection with an alleged violation of Illinois law, there is a defined procedure to go through before the assets are permanently forfeited. Under Article 36, a preliminary hearing must be held within 14 days of the seizure. At this hearing, the State will testify as to why the assets in question are legally subject to forfeiture, while the property owner can argue as to why his property should not be forfeited.

In the past, an innocent property owner had the burden of proving their own innocence. They had to prove that they were not involved and could not have reasonably known about the alleged crime, and therefore they should get to keep their car or other seized asset.

But now, thanks to a new law passed in 2017 that takes effect July 1, 2018, the burden of proof shifts to the State. The State will now be required to prove that the asset owner knew, or should reasonably have known, that the asset was going to be used in the alleged crime.

This change in the law, it is hoped, will return more seized assets to innocent owners. The reform legislation also creates new reporting requirements intended to bring transparency to the amount of assets seized by the state and how the resulting funds are being used.

Trust an Experienced Joliet Criminal Defense Attorney

If your vehicle or other property has been seized by the police in relation to an aggravated DUI charge, drug crime, or other offense, you will need the help of a knowledgeable and aggressive Will County criminal defense lawyer to try to prevent permanent forfeiture of that asset, as well as to defend against the alleged crime. Call the Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba at 815-740-4025 for a free and confidential consultation; phone calls are answered 24 hours a day.

Arrests By Conservation Officers Can Lead to Serious Criminal Charges

Joliet criminal lawyer

You might think you are safe to do what you please when you are out in the woods or on the lake. But you would be wrong, as evidenced by some of the citations issued and arrests made by the conservation officers of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Some of these stories will sound amusing, but the criminal charges are nothing but serious.

Drunk Snowmobile Driver Gets Caught in a Crash

In February 2018, an Illinois conservation officer followed up on a snowmobile crash in which the operator was injured. The crash investigation had resulted in the operator being cited for snowmobile DUI. The operator pled guilty to both charges. He was assigned court supervision, ordered to pay a fine and court costs totaling $1,190, and required to undergo drug and alcohol treatment.

Do Not Pee in Public by Your Pick-Up

A conservation officer driving along a highway observed a stopped pickup truck whose driver was outside the truck urinating. When the driver noticed the CO approaching, he quickly re-entered his vehicle and tossed a beer can behind his seat. The CO performed field sobriety tests, which the driver failed. A deputy with the county sheriff’s office was summoned to transport the driver to jail. The driver was charged with DUI (he had a blood alcohol level of 0.65%), illegal transportation of alcohol, and improper parking on the roadway.

No Matter What, Keep Your Vehicle Registration Up-to-Date

A conservation officer observed the vehicle in front of him to have an expired registration decal . A registration check showed that the registered owner of the vehicle had a suspended driver’s license, so the CO pulled the vehicle over. During the traffic stop, the driver was found to be in possession of cannabis and paraphernalia. The vehicle was towed, and the driver was cited for driving with a suspended license, lack of insurance, and possession.

Trust an Experienced Joliet Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have been snared by the “green pants,” the criminal charges you may face are just as serious as if you were arrested by the Illinois State Police, county sheriff, or city police. If the charges involve something you really do not want on your criminal record, such as drunk driving or drug-related charges, you will want to aggressively fight the charges. To determine your best defense strategy, consult a knowledgeable Will County Criminal Defense lawyer as soon as possible. Call the Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba at 815-740-4025 for a free and confidential consultation; phone calls are answered 24 hours a day.

Why Sleeping Off a Few Drinks in Your Car Can Result in a DUI

Joliet dui lawyers

In 1993, police stumbled upon a situation which would be the source of much controversy and disagreement regarding exactly when a person is drunk driving . On a very early June morning, two Naperville police officers found a person asleep in his car, which was parked in an apartment complex parking lot. The car’s engine was running but the car was in park. The sleeping defendant was laying across the two front seats.

The police initially struggled to wake the defendant, but when they did he admitted to sleeping in his car because he had consumed too much alcohol to safely drive home. The police officers subjected the defendant to a field sobriety test that indicated to them that he was, in fact, intoxicated. The defendant was arrested, and a later breathalyzer test showed that the man had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.18 percent.

Defendant Claimed to Only Have Been Using the Heater

While there was no doubt that the man had been under the influence of alcohol, there was doubt as to if he should be considered a drunk driver when he had not actually driven the vehicle. The defendant argued that he only had left the car’s engine running because he needed the heater to make it through the cold night. The Illinois Vehicle Code states that a person should not "drive or be in actual physical control of any vehicle" while under the influence of alcohol. The prosecution argued that the defendant was both under the influence of alcohol and in actual physical control of the vehicle. Despite protest from the defendant and his legal counsel, the man was eventually found guilty of driving under the influence—a conviction that was upheld by the Illinois Supreme Court . He was sentenced to one year of court supervision and had to pay a $250 fine.

Drivers Should Be Educated About DUI Laws and Their Rights as Motorists

While we generally think of DUI convictions as fairly straightforward, there are many examples such as this one when a person is at risk of getting a DUI and they do not even know it. If you have been charged with a DUI, you may be facing severe criminal consequences. You may have your driver’s license suspended, be required to pay steep fines, or even be imprisoned. Those charged with driving under the influence need a skilled Joliet DUI defense attorney who has experience protecting defendants’ rights and keeping them out of jail. For a free, confidential consultation at the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba, call (815) 740-4025 today.

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