Facing 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.