Bloomington Civil Asset Forfeiture Lawyer
Civil Asset Forfeiture Lawyer Bloomington, IL
As a trusted civil asset forfeiture lawyer Bloomington, IL residents rely on from Pioletti Pioletti & Nichols understands, it can be devastating if law enforcement comes into your home and takes your property. “Asset forfeiture” is when law enforcement confiscates someone’s property from people suspected of a crime or convicted of a crime. While there are times that a criminal’s property is justly seized, there are also many times that an innocent person has their property taken away. This commonly happens to those residing in poorer communities and minorities. So, what actions can you take when this happens?
Is this process legal?
Civil asset forfeiture is a legal process and occurs when investigators believe that a person has certain property that is linked to a crime; property either used during criminal proceedings or purchased as a result of a crime. As a Bloomington civil asset forfeiture lawyer understands, the laws surrounding civil asset forfeiture have changed and evolved over the years and it is up to the government to show that the property they have taken was used during a crime or purchased as a result of a crime. Although newer laws help a small number of victims, there are many people who have been subjected to senseless search and seizure tactics. Even if shown to be innocent, it can still be difficult for a person to take their property back once the government has confiscated it. When you know you have had your property taken away with little to no evidence showing you did something wrong, it is time to contact a lawyer you can trust.
Shouldn’t we be going to court before they have the right to take my property?
This would seem to make the most logical sense. If someone is going to take away property you purchased, you would think you have the right to have your case heard in court, right? Not only will you likely not get the fair trial you are expecting to get, but you may also never get your property back if the local authorities attempt to profit off your things. If you work with a lawyer quickly after this process gets started, you may have a better shot at getting your hearing and getting your things back.
Does the local government pressure citizens?
It is absolutely possible that local law enforcement will pressure citizens into giving up their items or confessing to being a part of a crime, even if they were not. Law enforcement may say that if you do not cooperate or do not give up your assets then you will face criminal charges and go to jail. Pressuring citizens into confessing crimes they did not commit or into giving up their assets, at the very least, brings up questions of whether the entire process is fair.
What are the legal defenses when fighting against these charges?
There are certain legal defenses that your civil asset forfeiture lawyer may try to use when fighting against these charges.
- Probable cause. This means that during the search and seizure, the police would need to have probable cause. If they pulled you over on a highway, they would need to expose the alleged criminal activity you were participating in, explain how they believe you are linked to a crime, or state that they believe you are in possession of something that was used during a criminal activity. If they do not have any reason that they conducted the search related to a crime, a court may dismiss the forfeiture.
- You were not aware of the crime. If your lawyer can show that you had no evidence the crime was committed or that the property you own was involved in criminal activity, a court may dismiss this.
- You can use the law on your side. There are amendments in place to protect citizens from illegal searches and seizures. The fourth amendment, for example, states that if the police took your property and had no warrant or in some other way violated your rights, then you can work with your lawyer to get your property back.
Get Help With Your Civil Asset Forfeiture Case Today
If your property was taken away from you or you are being charged with crimes related to this property that you had nothing to do with, you should not let this stand. Work with an attorney who will fight for your rights to have your property back and who will work to find evidence that you were not aware of any criminal activity as it relates to your property. If you need help, don’t wait any longer, give our office a call today for more information.
What types of items can the government take?
If the government believes that the property in question has been used to advance criminal action, the government can seize it. This could be your:
- Rental property
- Other valuable assets
Will I have to pay to get my property back?
This will depend on how you get your property back. You will want to speak with your lawyer candidly about what kinds of fees they may have when it comes to working on your case and fighting to get your property back. While you may not have anything to pay if you were to try to work on your civil asset forfeiture case on your own, you may not know what kind of paperwork needs to be filed, where to file it, and what deadlines there are.
How am I supposed to prove that I am not guilty of a crime?
When it comes to civil asset forfeiture, it has been difficult for many people to try to prove that they were not originally part of a crime or that they do not have a property related to a crime. However, in 2017 a new bill was passed that requires the government to prove that the property is related to a crime. You will not have to prove that you are innocent.
Will I have to go to court?
Similar to many cases, you may have the opportunity to settle this outside of court. That may also mean not getting back all of your property. You should speak with your lawyer about what you are willing to move forward with. The government likely will not want to spend the time and money to go to trial so you may have a good chance of settling your case outside of court.
Aren’t the police just doing what’s right?
The truth is the police and government are the parties who benefit the most when a civilian’s property is seized. Often, civilians do not realize they have the right to fight these forfeiture claims or may even feel so threatened that they choose not to pursue fighting the asset forfeiture. While it is true that police officers are here to protect people, they can also abuse the power they have by taking what is not theirs and keeping it or selling it, all under the name of “civil asset forfeiture.” While the original intent was that it was supposed to help take down criminal enterprises, it has been abused and distorted in a way that can hurt innocent people.
Am I even allowed to fight this?
Absolutely. In fact, you have the right to fight civil asset forfeiture. You should not feel obligated to let the government take away your property. Instead, you have the right to hire an attorney you can trust who will aggressively pursue your civil asset forfeiture case on your behalf. They can help you file documents, get your paperwork in on time, work toward a settlement, and even go to court. Call our office today if you would like to learn more about fighting to get your property back. You should not feel threatened by the people who claim to protect you. Schedule your appointment with us today.
How can I fight this?
Fighting civil asset forfeiture can feel like a Sisyphean task. However, if one of the first moves you made after this happened was a call to your lawyer, then you are already on the right path. There are certainly instances where law enforcement may believe they are above the law or that if they do not follow certain protocols it will not matter. If this is the case, know that your trusted lawyer will be combing through every document and examining every step they took during the time that the government seized your assets. When this is the case, it is possible to get your property back. Additionally, if you had nothing to do with the alleged crime, the government may not have a case at all. Rest assured that when you are dealing with this scenario your lawyer will be building their case quickly.
When you work with a lawyer you can count on, you know you are on your way to fighting this. If you would like to speak with a team member from Pioletti Pioletti & Nichols, give our Bloomington civil asset forfeiture lawyer a call now.
Seizures as Law Enforcement Tool
As a Bloomington, IL civil asset forfeiture lawyer from Pioletti Pioletti & Nichols has seen before, search and seizures are one of the main tools that law enforcement uses to get evidence for criminal cases. If police suspect you of committing a crime, they may want to search your vehicle, home, cell phone, trash, computer, or other belongings that are connected to you, as a means to link you to the crime. Citizens have a right to be free from search and seizures that are unlawful and unwarranted. Police have to obtain approval from the court before searching you and/or seizing property.
Search without Warrant
When law enforcement searches or seizes your property and does not have a warrant first, or without meeting the exception criteria, the court may deem that your rights have been violated, and this can impact the prosecution’s ability to go forward with charges against you. If your rights were violated during the search or seizure, then it is recommended that you contact a legal team immediately for help. A Bloomington civil asset forfeiture lawyer who has handled cases like these can come to your aid right away.
When Police Need a Warrant
Generally, you have the right to privacy with regard to your computer, residence, phone, car, purse or bags, and more. Police may ask for your consent to search and avoid the process of getting a warrant. It is imperative to understand that typically you are not required to offer consent for a search. You do have the right to ask police to obtain a warrant first, which they must do unless the situation meets the criteria of legal exceptions in which a warrant is not necessary. To get a warrant to search you and your property, police have to show a judge that there is enough evidence to suspect you have committed a criminal offense.
Exceptions to a Warrant
The laws for search and seizures have been changing over the years, and there is an increasingly complicated set of exceptions when law enforcement may perform a search or seize property without obtaining a warrant. Some exceptions include you or another person with authorization gave consent for the search, the search was done in connection with a lawful arrest, police searched a home where there was imminent risk to someone’s life or threat to property damage, an item is in obvious view and is incriminating, and/or the property was publicly available.
When Evidence is Permissible
It is important to know that evidence is not automatically dropped from your case because a search or seize was unlawful. As your Bloomington civil asset forfeiture lawyer can explain, a motion can be filed to suppress certain evidence, and it must be shown that the search or seizure was illegal, with sufficient reason for why the evidence should be kept out of the courtroom. If you are concerned about a search and seizure or a criminal accusation, contact our team at Pioletti Pioletti & Nichols as soon as possible so we can start protecting your best interests.