Illinois law allows police to seize vehicles used in the commission of a crime, which on the surface may seem like a great way to fight crime. And while it can serve this purpose, some are questioning the way the law is enforced.
Police can seize any car used in the commission of crimes ranging from murder to driving on a suspended license.
Some of the complaints are that the law does not mandate a speedy hearing in the case, so the owner could be without their vehicle for months. Also, the burden of proof is on the vehicle's owner, not the state. Many of the cases end in a default judgment in the state's favor because the vehicle owners cannot afford a lawyer. And vehicles can be seized before the case ever comes to trial, meaning police keep the car even if the defendant is later found not guilty or charges are dropped. The vehicle can be seized regardless of if the owner of the car is the one charged with the crime. Between 2007 and 2009, the city of Naperville made more than $300,000 on the sale of seized vehicles.
Kane County State's Attorney John Barsanti believes there may be a problem with the law, but DuPage County State's Attorney Joe Birkett has no qualms. DuPage County has seized about 3,000 vehicles since 2006. In DuPage, Birkett amended the local laws to provide for a probable cause-type hearing.
Do you think this law is fair? Is it an effective crime fighting technique, or a way for municipalities to make money? Is it appropriate to take someone's vehicle for what could in some cases be a relatively minor crime?
Read the full article here: http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/napervillesun/news/2227002,3_1_EL03_04SEIZE_S1-100503.article