Chicago Asset Forfeiture Attorney
Under the laws of civil asset forfeiture, law enforcement agencies can confiscate property they have reason to believe that you have used, intended to use, or obtained in connection with a crime. Controversially, the police can keep your property even if you never get charged or convicted of a crime. The court process for recovering your property is not only expensive, it puts the authorities at an advantage.
If your car, cash, or home have been taken after a police raid, you will need the help of an experienced and determined Chicago asset forfeiture attorney. Call O’Meara Law LLC today at 312-909-0706 to find out how a criminal defense lawyer can help you.
Civil Asset Forfeiture is Policing for Profit
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Illinois Policy Institute report that between 2005 and 2015, Illinois law enforcement agencies confiscated more than $319 million from state residents suspected of being criminals. During the same period, federal law enforcement agencies took around $404 million dollars in the state. The report notes, however, that both federal and state agencies often underreport their asset forfeiture activities – so the actual amount of confiscated goods could be significantly greater.
This means that tens of millions of dollars are confiscated from potentially innocent Illinoisans every year, mostly in the context of drug cases. Law enforcement agencies put the money they confiscate directly into their own coffers, which gives them a profit incentive to seize as much property as possible. Illinois is rated as having some of the worst civil asset forfeiture laws in the country, making it extremely difficult for asset forfeiture victims to get their property back.
How to Get Your Property Back Through Asset Forfeiture Proceedings
You have much fewer rights in an asset forfeiture proceeding when compared to a criminal proceeding. You are not on trial, but your property is. This puts you at a significant disadvantage when trying to get your property back. Below are some examples of how the recovery process for forfeited property benefits the authorities:
- The law presumes your property was connected to illegal drug activity as long as it was found in close proximity to drugs or drug manufacturing materials
- The police need only to show that your property is forfeitable by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not) as opposed to beyond a reasonable doubt like in a criminal trial
- The burden is on you to prove that your property was not used in connection with illegal activities
- You also need to demonstrate that you didn’t know, or could not have possibly known that your property was used or obtained in connection with a crime
- You have no right to an appointed counsel if you can’t afford your own lawyer
- The prosecutor can use hearsay evidence (testimony based on what the witness has heard from someone else), but you cannot
- The forfeiture proceeding costs $100, or 10% of the value of the property at issue in the case
For many people, the process of recovering forfeited property is simply too expensive. If your $40,000 vehicle has been taken, you will need $4,000 to even have a chance of getting it back -not to mention the expense of hiring a lawyer who can get the job done.
How O’Meara Law LLC Can Help
The police are convinced that they can take any property they think might be involved in criminal activity. At O’Meara Law LLC, we believe these police abuses should be kept in check. We will fight for your dignity and rights by building the strongest case possible to rebut the authorities’ presumptions about your confiscated property. We will thoroughly review the prosecution’s evidence against you and ensure that it was not collected in violation of the law or your constitutional rights.
Two new bills are under consideration by the Illinois House of Representatives that might overhaul the state’s broken civil asset forfeiture system. Until those reforms materialize, people who have had their property confiscated by the police will need to get an effective legal advocate in their corner. Getting your property back will be an uphill battle, but attorney Michael O’Meara has the determination to lead your case to a positive resolution.
If you’ve fallen prey to asset forfeiture, call O’Meara Law LLC today at 312-909-0706 and we’ll give you a free and confidential consultation.