Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform

UPDATE 6/22/17: The civil asset forfeiture reform bill (House Bill 303) was passed out of committee in the Illinois House 8-0. It now moves to the full House.

CAF Ad-01Did you know that your property can be permanently taken away by the government even if you are never charged with a crime? Each year in Illinois, $40 million or more in cash, cars, and even homes is seized through something called civil asset forfeiture.

Civil asset forfeiture is the permanent confiscation of private property by law enforcement agencies. Under current Illinois and federal law, law enforcement agencies can take cash, land, vehicles and other property they suspect is involved in illegal activity. But those laws do not require that someone is convicted – or even charged – with a crime in order to lose their property permanently.

A new measure aims to reform Illinois’ broken civil asset forfeiture system by putting in place measures to protect Illinois residents from serious economic harm. The bill will ensure that:

1. A criminal conviction is required before property can be forfeited to the government;

2. The state provide clear and convincing evidence that property is related to criminal activity before it is forfeited;

3. Police and prosecutors are not given financial incentives to seize and forfeit property, and;

4. Information about civil asset forfeiture and the use of its proceeds are made transparent and accessible to lawmakers and taxpayers.

The ACLU of Illinois believes that no person should lose their property if they have not been convicted of a crime, and that police should never directly benefit from seizing people’s property.

Learn more about civil asset forfeiture in Illinois.