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Are You Facing Civil Asset Forfeiture in Illinois?

forfeiture lawyerFacing any kind of drug crime can be stressful and frightening. After all, both your freedom and your future could be at stake, depending on the circumstances of the charges. But there is another grave issue you may have to deal with when you have been accused of a drug crime: asset forfeiture. If you have been charged with a drug crime, it is important to contact a Will County defense attorney.

What Is Asset Forfeiture

Asset forfeiture is the taking of an accused’s property either by federal or state government officials if that property is considered profit from illegal activities. It is intended to “take the profit out of crime.” Under asset forfeiture laws, the government can take cash, bank accounts, real estate, vehicles, and any other assets they believe were obtained due to criminal acts.
Criminal asset forfeiture can occur once the accused has been tried and convicted of the crimes they are charged with. This type of asset forfeiture is fairly common in drug cases.
However, Illinois and many other states also have civil asset forfeiture laws. With this type, law enforcement are able to seize the person’s assets without a conviction – sometimes without even the individual being charged – if the police suspect these assets are the proceeds of criminal activity.

Property can be seized under civil asset forfeiture if police believe:

• The property are funds used or meant to be used to procure, manufacture, deliver, or distribute illegal drugs.

• The property or assets can be characterized – either directly or indirectly – as proceeds from the sale of illegal drugs.

• The property was purchased – either directly or indirectly – using the proceeds of the sale of illegal drugs.

• The property was used or intended for use for committing certain drug crimes.

Once the property or assets are seized, a hearing is held to determine if the government agency had the right to the property. If the court approves, the property is auctioned off at a public auction, and the proceeds are distributed to law enforcement agencies.

Illinois Record on Civil Asset Forfeiture

The state of Illinois has been given a D- by the Institute for Justice (IJ) for its civil asset forfeiture laws. According to the IJ, there is a low bar when it comes to the required standard of proof for seizing property and poor protections for innocent owners. The IJ says there is also a high financial incentive for police to file civil asset forfeiture cases since 90 percent of all proceeds go to law enforcement agencies. Since the year 2000, the state has made a total of $676,140,073 in civil asset forfeiture revenue.

Call an Illinois Defense Lawyer

If you have been accused of drug crimes and could be facing asset forfeiture, contact a Will County drug crimes attorney to find out what type of defense can be mounted. Contact the Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba, P.C. at 815-740-4025 to schedule a free consultation.

Illinois Passes New Ghost Gun Law

Joliet gun lawyerGov. JB Pritzker signed a new law that makes selling or possessing “ghost guns” illegal in the state of Illinois. Illinois is the ninth state in the country – and the first in the Midwest – to enact such a law.

Ghost guns are often created on 3-D printers and do not have serial numbers, making them untraceable, that are usually sold in parts that the buyer assembles at home. This allows people who are prohibited under the law to own guns to get around background checks and obtain these weapons.

How Common Are Ghost Guns?

Law enforcement officials have raised the alarm over the increase in ghost guns on the streets. According to statistics released by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), there were approximately 24,000 ghost guns recovered by law enforcement between 2016 to 2020.

The number of ghost guns have spiked here in Illinois, as well. In 2020, the Illinois State Police recovered 62 ghost guns. In 2021, that number tripled to 180. So far this year, the agency has recovered 164 ghost guns, with seven more months in the year to go.

Ghost guns are also attractive to teens, who otherwise are prohibited from possessing guns. Just this month, there have been two cases of teens charged with possessing ghost guns. In one case, the teen allegedly brought the gun to school.

Penalties for Violating the Law

If anyone in Illinois currently owns a ghost gun, they have 180 days from the date the law was signed to go through the process to legally obtain a serial number for the gun.

Once that grace period is over, if a person is found to have a ghost gun, the can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. A second offense will be charged as a Class 3 felony.

A first offense of selling a ghost gun will be charged as a Class 4 felony, which could mean a prison sentence of one to three years if convicted. A second offense will be charged as a Class 2 felony, and a conviction could mean a three to seven-year prison sentence.

Call a Will and Grundy County Defense Lawyer

If you are facing any kind of weapons charge in Illinois, contact the Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba, P.C. to ensure you have skilled and aggressive legal representation advocating for you. Call our office today at 815-740-4025 to schedule a free and confidential consultation with a dedicated Will County weapons defense attorney.

Defenses to Retail Theft in Illinois

Joliet retail theftThere are certain times of the year when shoplifting occurs more often than other times. This is especially true during holidays, such as the upcoming Memorial Day Weekend sales, when more shoppers descend on malls and other retail establishments. Although retailers are always aware of the possibility of someone attempting to take merchandise without paying for it, many store employees are particularly vigilant during these big sale events because of the increased risk of theft.

This vigilance can often lead to false accusations of shoplifting. In Illinois, if the amount of the merchandise the shopper is accused of trying to steal is valued at more than $300, they will be charged with a felony. If a person is falsely accused, the following are some of the common defenses that could be used to prove they are not guilty.

The Customer Was Unaware Their Companion Was Committing Retail Theft

One of the most common situations of shoplifting charges occurs as a “guilt by association” scenario. This happens when one person is actually committing retail theft, but the friend or family member they are shopping with has no idea. Store security will still pursue charges against the innocent individual.

Not Enough Probable Cause to Have Been Stopped by Store Security

When a retail store employee suspects a customer of shoplifting, they will usually contact store security. Security, or the store employee, will search the customer’s personal belongings, such as a purse or backpack, for the merchandise. However, in order to stop the customer and conduct this search, there must be probable cause that the customer has stolen something. If there was no probable cause for the search, then a shoplifting lawyer can argue that the charges should be dropped.

There Is Little or No Evidence the Customer Stole Something

In order to prove the customer has committed retail theft, there must be evidence to prove it, beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the legal standard of proof in the criminal justice system. If there were no witnesses, surveillance video footage, or other proof, a shoplifting lawyer can argue the charges against the customer should be dismissed.

Contact a Will County Defense Attorney

If you have been arrested and charged with retail theft, you could be facing felony charges, depending on the value of the merchandise. A conviction could have a significant impact on your future. Call the Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba, P.C today at 815-740-4025 to schedule a free consultation with a skilled Will and Grundy County shoplifting attorney to find out what legal options you may have.

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