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Do you think the seized vehicle law is fair?

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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

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39 Comments

It takes more money to appeal. While the state pays for the attorneys for police to bring charges, citizens have to pay for their own attorneys. Ordinary people, just trying to pay their bills, don't necessarily have the money to pay lawyers and court costs and loose time at work to appeal.

The seizure law uses the lowest standard possible to decide these cases -- "more likely than not". So a police officer says that he saw something and you say I didn't do it, the police officer's word is going to hold more weight. My point is that the standard used is so ridiculusly slight to take someone else's property -- property worth thousands of dollars. That doesn't seem right. This law does not support the concept of innocent until proven guilty. The seizure law is treated more like a traffic ticket law. When you get a traffic ticket it is pretty hard to say that you weren't speeding. However, even in a traffic ticket there was usually some proof by the officer that you were speeding. In this case there was no proof required other than one police officer's words. He wasn't required to have stopped the truck. So actually, the ability of the state or city to seize property is even a lower standard of proof required for them to take thousands of dollars worth of an individuals property than to give you a traffic ticket. I believe this law is outrageous as it is written. The standard of proof to take away property must be changed. Ordinary people don't have the money to fight it. It can be used by people in power in arbitrary ways to take property and destroy other people's lives. People need to be aware that this law has taken away important property rights and standards of justice that I for one took for granted.

From npdcop:

"I think he danced awfully close to being libelous while doing his spin."

Which is another way of saying the lawyer told the truth. It's pretty obvious that npdcop toes the blue line, as he only believes his fellow law enforcement officials. I also find his pious "Appeal the case" remark telling, because he knows how much that would cost in lawyer fees. That's not even mentioning that Karla has already seen how corrupt the Dupage county court system is, between her case and cases like the Nicaraco case.

At least npdcop admits to "Frankly, "extraordinarily misguided/politically motivated" leadership decisions are all to common at NPD.". Sad part is that even with his own admission that he knows his department is corrupt or inept, he still calls Karla a liar.

npdcop,

The story I hear (and read) is different than your version, one more reason I too wish this thing had been handled differently.

"I thought so then, and now believe the decision to wait was extraordinarily misguided. Frankly, "extraordinarily misguided/politically motivated" leadership decisions are all to common at NPD."

I totally agree the officer and the supervisor, and if your version is correct, were both not only spineless they were irresponsible. IMHO, for something like what is alleged the arrest should have been made immediately or not at all. There was no evidence to gather beyond the names of those present. This is why the Capitol Hill and DC police make the arrest of congressman having sex with a page boy and call the press five seconds later.

Unless you were in the room when the officer interacted with his superiors or a witness on the scene, we are both operating off of second hand info. Mine is that the officer was indeed pressured. How many years does the officer in question have left to go before retirement and would he have to start over with a new PD. How portable are the pensions?

BTW is Sargent Knight still with the NPD? I haven't heard his name since he arrested another Sargent for DUI.

PS

I'll say it again, thanks for posting.

I want to address some of Anonymous @ 1:28PM's comments seperately.

What you wrote will be in quotation marks, with my response immediately below:

"If as you say it was two months... but the time-line you state makes no sense at all."

-- No , it doesn't, which generally means there is much more to the story than presented by the story-teller, or even that the whole story is a load of bovine excrement.

"However, it is reminiscent of the 48 hours it took for the near-retirement NPD Officer to realize that he had been assaulted by Councilman Furstanau..."

-- Now we are getting into some revisionism!

The officer involved in the incident is not "near retirement."

Immediately after the incident he notified a supervisor, who came to the scene. The officer knew Furstenau and who he was, as did the sergeant, and no arrest was immediately made because of some (what can perhaps best be described as) political concerns. Should he have been arrested immediately? I thought so then, and now believe the decision to wait was extraordinarily misguided. Frankly, "extraordinarily misguided/politically motivated" leadership decisions are all to common at NPD. Others in the department thought waiting and conducting an in-depth investigation before proceeding was the right thing to do. Regardless, the officer invovled did not wait 48 hours "to realize he had been assaulted (and it was a battery, technically)." He was sure form the start.

"I wonder if there are any records of the meetings the Officer had during the 48 hour period, and who he met with that helped him improve his memory of the event?"

-- His memory was fine, as I implied above.

"To get this out from under a cloud, perhaps everyone who discussed this with the Officer during the 48 hour period should be compelled to testify before a Federal Grand Jury starting with the Chief of Police and the head of the SEIU local and working its way down from there. The former City Manager and all his reports should also be compelled to give sworn statements to a grand jury."

-- This would only happen if there was likely going to be a federal indictment, which there isn't. If Furstenau believes criminal activity was afoot, he can ask the feds to investigate. Of course, he did sue the City and involved parties, during which depositions could have been, and were, taken in order to "get this out from under a cloud" as you say. A much lower burden of proof in a civil case and still Furstenau tucked tail and ran when the realization his case was going nowhere became clear through the deluded fog of his mind.

By the way, what does the head of the SEIU local have to do with anything in the Furstenau case.

"If memory serves me correctly, the Officer in question was never willing to take the stand against Furstenau; which would mean being sworn in and potential perjury charges if false testimony were given."

-- Not true at all. Your memory is correct that Furstenau's half-wit shyster made that claim in the media. However, said shyster also knew he was lying (or a complete moron) while making that statement. The officer was very ready and willing to testify on the day of the trial, but attorneys stipulated to another form of bench trial where direct testimony and cross examination were not used. I have no idea why, but it was not because of any unwillingness to testify.

Look, if you hear someone's legal counsel making a statement to the media on their clients behalf, take it with a grain of salt. Furstenau is a politician and, as such, part of his lawyer's job is media spin. Personally, knowing what I do (and the attorney should) about the system, compared to how he represented the facts of the case in the media, I think he danced awfully close to being libelous while doing his spin.

Chris,

If as Karla says is true (or not), the SUN should investigate starting with a couple of simple FOIs to the NPD and the Courts. This could be a good case study if Karla is willing to work with the SUN to identify her son's case.

Let get the facts into the discussion as NPDcop suggests and see where the truth lays.

Karla --

You wrote, "You failed to address the comments made by the police officers who showed up at the house who said they couldn't believe that he got it back in the first place. It all adds to me to a form vigilanty justice that is being approved of by the states attorneys and the courts."

-- I didn't fail to address it at all. I wasn't there, so I don't know how the conversation went between you and the officers on scene. I did address it, though: I said I'm not buying your version. I believe you, like many people, are presenting an abbreviated version that presents the incident in the way you want it rather than inclusive of all the facts, which would likely paint a very different picture.

That's not necessarily calling you a liar, but you're not including, or don't know, all the facts involved.

Your version does not make sense as described. Appeal the case; if it happened the way you say, then you should win and the judge, the officer, and all the other co-conspirators against you and your son will be held to bear. Of course, in the appeal, ALL the facts will be revealed, even the ones you aren't disclosing or don't know.

I am outraged as a citizen, as well as mother, that police powers are being used to confiscate property without so much as being required to stop the person they are accusing of wrong doing. The officer said that he saw a truck that looked my son's that he recognized it by the tailpipe. As I said in my original email he said that he belived the person he saw in the truck was my son. He didn't stop the truck. The problem with that story is that my son was not driving his truck until he got his work permit. I talked to th officer, I went to court and I heard him tell the judge the same story exactly as I am telling you here. These really are the facts, not just a mom who is defending her son.
Furthermore, his truck was not paid off. They took the truck, and were not required to even pay off the rest of the loan and my son is left on the hook to pay off the truck that they confiscated. How is that fair or right?

You failed to address the comments made by the police officers who showed up at the house who said they couldn't believe that he got it back in the first place. It all adds to me to a form vigilanty justice that is being approved of by the states attorneys and the courts.

I don't have on rose colored glasses. This really happened. I sat through the court and heard it. People should be outraged that this can happen to them. It did happen. It doesn't make sense to me either, but it is true.

Amazing, ndcop again calls a poster a liar, even though he himself has no facts. So much for his self proclaimed objectivity.

Karla,

A lot of readers here are going to take you at you word, and be outraged and incredulous that something like this could happen.

I'm not buying it, at least not your version. Like I have said before in these threads, I'm not all that crazy of how seizures are handled, or their broad scope. Nonetheless, the way you described this going down is very, very different that what really happened.

Somewhere is a report prepared by the officer that started the whole seizure process, and that you can access via FOIA. Do it and read the officer's version. No judge signed an order for the seizure of the truck without more than "I knew the truck by the tailpipe."

You're the Mom, I get it, You're supposed to be outraged on your son's behalf and defend him. I think you need to see things a lot more objectively, though, because as presented, your explanation makes no sense.

Sorry, but that's the truth. Get the police report and court transcript of the hearing, and put away the rose-colored glasses, okay?

Karla,

If as you say it was two months, it's difficult to understand why a concerned Officer would wait two months, even negligent. In fact, it calls their integrity into question. I'm sure the Officer could have called it in on their way to their kid's soccer game or whatever it was. If true, the Judge should demand a sworn explanation from the Officer on the record. If true, and the Judge did not demand a sworn explanation, the Judge has violated his oath and should be removed from office.

People driving on revoked and suspended licenses is a real problem, but the time-line you state makes no sense at all.

However, it is reminiscent of the 48 hours it took for the near-retirement NPD Officer to realize that he had been assaulted by Councilman Furstanau who had to stand trail for an offense that could have landed him in prison for up to 15 years. This was around the same time that the Councilman had questioned police overtime and suggested getting the costs under control.

I wonder if there are any records of the meetings the Officer had during the 48 hour period, and who he met with that helped him improve his memory of the event?

To get this out from under a cloud, perhaps everyone who discussed this with the Officer during the 48 hour period should be compelled to testify before a Federal Grand Jury starting with the Chief of Police and the head of the SEIU local and working its way down from there. The former City Manager and all his reports should also be compelled to give sworn statements to a grand jury.

If memory serves me correctly, the Officer in question was never willing to take the stand against Furstenau; which would mean being sworn in and potential perjury charges if false testimony were given.

I was stunned when the police came to the door and handed over a seizure order for my son's truck. The policeman said that while he was off duty he saw him driving. The policeman's story was that he didn't have time to pull him over and he didn't have time to call anyone to pull him over. He believed the person he saw was my son, in his truck. He said he knew it was his truck by the tailpipe-- so basically he didn't even run the license plates, nor stop the truck to verify who was driving this truck. To top it all off, the officer showed up two and half months after he said he saw him driving it. While I was clearing out the truck, one of the officers who came to get the truck said to me, "we couldn't believe that he got truck back in the first place." We couldn't believe that a Dupage County Judge would agree that this was legal, but he did. Based on no evidence. There is no due process here. This is the police running amuck.

JQP,

I've been looking for a copy of a "cheat sheet" I have somewhere that details for exactly what offenses vehicle and property seizures can be made. Unfortunately, I tucked it away for safekeeping so well its current whereabouts are unknown.

Without that, I would refer you to the Illinois Compiled Statutes, Articles 36 and 37 under sect 720. Best to just Google "article 36" and "Illinois." Property other than vehicles and vessels is under Article 37.

The reading is dry as dust, and involves a lot of cross-referencing, but it lays out exactly what offenses meet the criteria. I believe the total number of offenses covered under the vehicle seizures is nearly 50, and I was honestly shocked there were so many when I saw them listed on the "Property Seizures for Dummies" list I have since misplaced.

I can tell you this: I also found disturbing some of the things we can take property for. I think the potential to overreach is significant. At the same time, I think we do a good job showing a degree of restraint and understanding, in general.

Those offenses for which we can seize a vehicle, for example, are all CRIMINAL offenses. In Illinois, minor traffic violations (speeding, disobeying traffic signs & signals, imporper lane use, etc) are not criminal offenses, but rather PETIT offenses and no seizure can take place. An exception to the speeding offense, however, is if the offense is 40 mph greater than the posted speed limit, at which time it is upgraded to a Class A Misdemeanor under reckless driving. This is still not enough to warrant a seizure. Ken's example of of the seized Viper in Plainfield seems to be one of a) excessive speed and b) fleeing the attempted traffic stop with, c)aggravating factors of some sort which bumped the offense to Felony status. Oops, buh-bye Viper.

A car won't be seized for a simple DUI but can be for an aggravated DUI. A car won't be seized for driving with a suspended license alone, but if the suspension is for an alcohol-related offense, or there are prior convictions for that same offense with certain factors of aggravation, seizure may be an option.

If someone gets stopped and there is a bag of weed in the car, they'll likely get a ticket and sent driving on their way, or they may be arrested but the car will not be seized. If there are large bundles of pot in the trunk well, the car is likely going to be gone for good.

A car used in the commission of the most severe violent crimes (murder, sexual assault, robbery, etc) can and probably will be seized, while if some kid drives it to the Jewel to boost cheap Vodka, almost certainly not. Vehicles that are used in, or obtained from, serious criminal acts or conspiracies may be subject to seizure.

You may have noticed I used the words "may be" or "can be" a lot. There is latitude in what we do, and officers also exercise a lot of discretion. To be perfectly honest, I share your discomfort with the law and how far it can potentially reach, despite agreeing with some of its provisions and use. To paraphrase "sam" above, we need to be vigilant against the incremental erosion of rights and due process. You mention the need for limits and I wholeheartedly agree with that. I don't want unlimited power as a police officer, nor do I want it exercised over me as a citizen.

npdcop wrote:

My point here is not to defend the practice of property seizure but to explain it a little. I think it has merit at some points but is flawed in others. Learn what you can about it and try to change what you don't like, but understand it thoroughly first.
And sam, I'll be the first to acknowledge that prosecutors and police need checks on our power. I know how far some would take advantage if left unchecked, maybe in the name of "the greater good," but still. Checks on government power are good things for all of us.

First, thank you for your participation on this thread. It's always enlightening to get the perspective of someone with inside experience of how things work in matter like this.

I'd like to reiterate a concern that I think a couple of other posters have expressed, though. I think many of us have less disagreement with the principle of the government having the authority to seize property that was used in the commission of a crime, than we do with the apparent lack of limits that have been placed on this power. When I say, "limits", I'm not talking about policies adopted by one law enforcement agency or another; I am talking about hard and fast rules that are spelled out in the legal code that are designed to ensure that this practice cannot be abused. Perhaps I've missed something, but from what I've read in your posts and in the original article, it sounds to me as if, in theory, one's car could be taken for just about any infraction. And that is disturbing.

-JQP

Of course your responses to me are harsh, ndcop, because you don't like the facts. Your type prefers those that cower at the sight of you, and hate anyone who dares questions your authority. I gave two examples of NPD abuse, and you dismiss them as delusions. Since I grew up here, I could give many more, but why bother? Your mind is made up that you are a god, and should be treated as such. Like I said, I see it all the time when dealing with cops. I do know and am friends with a few decent cops, and they are the first to admit that cops like you make up too much of the force and give law enforcement a bad name.

I don't hate you, Ken, I simply think your thoughts are distorted and those distortions will not allow you to consider the possibility there may be alternative explanations beyond what you are so sure of. Frankly, you come off as more than a little bit paranoid.

My responses to you are harsher than they are to others in the thread, you may notice. Your unbending hostility has dictated the terms of how I respond to you.

I'm done now, Ken. There is no debating delusions. Good luck.

Typical cop answer, ndcop. I must be a cop hater, I must be a degenerate or associated with them, etc. It's funny how your type always say the citizen is wrong, not the system. Typical cop god complex.

The Plainfield theft of the Viper was a huge news story that you conveniently can barely recall. The man's lawyer was interviewed extensively, and PPD always declined comment. Not hard to figure out why, is it?

As for the illegality of your dui program, it is very obvious to me as I was targeted twice, pulled over once. The cop gave three different lies as to why he pulled me over, all which I politely refuted. I guess only drunks drive beaters at 2:30 am in Naperville, not honest citizens on their way to work in their work car.

I also got a ticket for an accident that I had in my work vehicle that I and the lady I hit told the cop was a waste of time. She even asked the cop why he bothered, as she was not going to show up in court as my hitting her was the result of me avoiding killing someone that pulled out in front of me. The NPD officer huffily said that his report would make the ticket stick. The Naperville prosecutor was just as huffy when he dismissed it for lack of evidence. By the way he also told me that he hoped next time I got killed in the accident because he was so upset that he couldn't take my money. You may accuse me of child like behavior, but that's the same behavior I have gotten from the NPD and its prosecutor.

I filed complaints on both incidents and never heard anything from them. I'm sure they hit the circular file before they were even read completely through.

You can spew your hatred of an average citizen, npdcop, but it only hurts the image you are trying to portray here; that of a cop really interested in justice. Unfortunately, your writings show otherwise.

sam, good questions and thoughts. The issue is far too complex to cover every possible circumstance, but I will remard with some generalities to each of you points/questions/comments.

"How is it that we can justify the seizure of property on the basis of a single officer's report, but incarceration requires a fair and impartial hearing to determine the facts?"

-- It is not just the report of a single officer, but evidence is considered, along with the report of the officer and any other reporting officers, and the seizure is considered as part of the totality of all of it. Defendents are afforded opportunity to contest the seizure. And again, property seizures are relatively rare, and not always immediate (ie: it is held as evidence first, and later seized, or ordered turned over by the court later). Sometimes it IS returned to the owner by court order. There is still a burden of proof on the state the seizure is lawful and appropriate.

"Our individual rights are not going to vanish overnight, but are going to be taken away a little at a time in the name of the greater good. How long until it makes sense to just skip the trial -- as long as we know that the right person has been arrested?"

-- Your first sentence I agree with, but that's for a whole other thread, I think. Your ssecond is rhetorical and not a possibility except by the worst of doomsayers. No one, least of all lawyers, would let that happen!

"Does anyone believe that in the case of an acquittal or a verdict of not guilty that the arresting officer thought the defendant wasn't guilty? Yet that is the standard for seizure."

-- Actually, as said above, the standard for seizure is a more than a little higher than that, and subject to legal challenge. Your first sentence is actually illustrative. Every police officer has had cases wherein he/she absolutely knows the defendent is guilty but, for any number of reasons, all that the cop knows is not admitted before the judge or jury and the case results in an acquittal. I've lost cases that way, as has everyone in my profession. It just happens and is accepted because it's far better than the alternative (a wrongful conviction, which is tragic no matter the severity of the alleged crime).

My point here is not to defend the practice of property seizure but to explain it a little. I think it has merit at some points but is flawed in others. Learn what you can about it and try to change what you don't like, but understand it thoroughly first.

And sam, I'll be the first to acknowledge that prosecutors and police need checks on our power. I know how far some would take advantage if left unchecked, maybe in the name of "the greater good," but still. Checks on government power are good things for all of us.

Ken, you take a single incident - and I'm quite sure there is far more to it than you know or choose to know, although no amount of argument or facts are going to persuade you otherwise - and try to make a gross generalization out of it.

Your thought process is either severely distorted or you're comments are deliberately provocative, and neither situation lends any credibility to what you have to offer.

You can spew whatever nonsense you want and no matter how I answer it, or how factually-based my answers are, you will discount them as lies. If I were to bring in independent evidence, you would discount it as fabricated. And I could point out that, despite the endless bleating of you and other cop-haters like you about the obvious "illegality" of what we in law enforcement do, no enterprising civil rights attorney is stepping up to file hundreds of FOIAs in order to launch a massive legal action against my department - or really any others out here I can think of - for our alleged illegalities. But I'm sure you would merely claim that shows how deep the conspiracy goes.

Ken, go get some help. I'm serious. Your rage is misplaced, your accusations are meritless unless you can show some supporting evidence to back them beyond your biases or the biases of your associates who keep you in cr_ap, and you now nothing of which you speak.

Ask me a question or questions with neither overt nor covert hostility or accusation and I will answer you honestly and respectfully. I promise. All I ask is you listen with an open mind. Otherwise, you just come off as an angry child.

This is an interesting and frightening thread.

As long as we are certain that the culprits are guilty, why not skip the expense and inconvenience of a trial and just put them in jail at the same time that we seize their property?

How is it that we can justify the seizure of property on the basis of a single officer's report, but incarceration requires a fair and impartial hearing to determine the facts?

Our individual rights are not going to vanish overnight, but are going to be taken away a little at a time in the name of the greater good. How long until it makes sense to just skip the trial -- as long as we know that the right person has been arrested?

Does anyone believe that in the case of an acquittal or a verdict of not guilty that the arresting officer thought the defendant wasn't guilty? Yet that is the standard for seizure.

npdcop, of course you don't seize the majority of cars, as they are not worth the trouble. As the Plainfield pd showed quite clearly, only the high value cars are worth stealing...er, seizing.

NPDCOP

Thanks for posting, its great to get the perspective of someone who has to implement the laws in a real world environment.

As to those who start their thought process with the police as the aggressor NAZIs, and begin rationalizing from there; I believe that they are the small but vocal minority. Inverse neo Nazi's with the same level of fanaticism.

Again, thanks for posting!

Anonymous @ 10:57 AM,

I agree with your last two paragraphs.

I honestly don't see a lot of corruption of the lawyers, prosecutors and judges locally - as in those working in DuPage and Will - although C(r)ook Co is right next door, but there is some ineptitude and plenty of inefficiencies. And let me add I have long been bothered by what I see as soft prosecution in Joe Birkett's office. He has some outstanding prosecutors but he himself is a consummate politician, and therefore politically cautious.

The truth is, seizures are immediate punishment for people who would otherwise face few serious consequences. The driver caught for driving suspended or revoked because of DUIs is simply not going to do any real jail time, absent the reforms you (rightfully) advocate. On top of that, seizures are civil, rather than criminal, proceedings with a lower burden of proof, and much faster through the system.

I grant you, not all of the people who have their cars seized are aware of what they have done wrong, or how their offense might impact them, or what can happen if they unwittingly loan a car to someone who misuses it. But to be fair, the SAs office has provided law enforcement much stricter guidelines they want followed, and documented, before we even try to seize someone's car. Believe it or not, they are really trying hard to ensure that the people who permanently lose their rides clearly fall into the catagory of either "moron" or "stubbornly incorrigible."

And I'm sure it would surprise some of the posters who catagorically place all of us cops in the "heartless storm-trooper" column that most of us give a lot - and I mean A LOT - of breaks and use a lot of discretion before we grab someone's car from them. Vehicle seizures are relatively rare when you consider how many arrests we make where we could take the car if we wanted.

ndcop,

You wrote: "Most of the vehicles we do seize are taken from morons who know the risks of what they are doing and choose to do them anyway, or are repeat offenders who simply refuse to change their behavior."

"Most" but not all and therein lies a large part of the problem and thus this discussion. Truthfully there are a myriad of laws that can be effectively used to prosecute and incarcerate criminals who commit all kinds of violations while using a motor vehicle.

Personally, I care more about these criminals serving real jail time more than I care about seizing vehicles. Let's face it... American citizens have stood by apathetically while the lawyers, prosecutors, and judges have bastardized our legal, judicial, and correction systems to the point we find them today rife with corruption, inefficiencies, and are just plain inept.

Honest, hard working, law abiding citizens deserve drastic reform and restructuring of the legal, judicial, and correction systems as a much higher priority than confiscating vehicles.

Wouldn't it make more sense to have the police collecting the plates from cars with no insurance, or the owner has no license or a suspended license?

The State I lived in 30 years ago would send you a notice to appear at a police station with proof of insurance or mail you plates in within a week. Failure to do so resulted in a knock at the door by two officers who would take the plates.

Most people kept their insurance and inspections up to date.

Maybe our Leaders in Springfield are worried that they will lose the drunk driver vote, or the illegal alien vote or even worse lose their income from the Insurance companies who get to sell us "uninsured motorist" insurance and "collision insurance" to protect us from unlicensed drivers with no insurance or substandard insurance in cars with no brakes, leaking oil with severely degraded body integrity as evidenced by all of the rust holes and no bumpers.

Follow the money, insurance companies are still writing the insurance laws for their benefit, not the citizens.


Amen!!!!! on the IRS.

npdcop, Plainfield police claimed that the man tried to evade them, and got the felony charge and car. The driver claims that he pulled over as soon as he saw the lights. Since for some reason the courts always believes cops even when they lie, as happens often, the man lost his car. As I said, legalized theft by the gang with the pretty uniforms and claims that they enforce the laws that everyone constantly sees them break themselves. Kind of like the NPD's successful yet illegal DUI program.

Seized vehicles may be returned all the time, but the innocent party still has to pay towing and impound fees. That seems fair to you?

I faintly remember the Plainfield/Viper thing a few years back. If the car was seized it was not seized for "speeding." Speeding, in itself, does not meet the standard for vehicle seizure.

There are several offenses for which a vehicle can be seized - and, to be truthful, I am not even comfortable with all of them - but none are for minor traffic violations (speeding, broken headlight, expired plates, or even open container alone) which are mostly petit offenses and not considered criminal.

And to successfully seize a car the burden of proof of proof still falls on the state to demonstrate the legality of the seizure, which is no small feat, and the driver/owner is entitled to due process. Seized vehicles are returned all the time, and that's OK. A lot of cars eligible for seizure are never seized in the first place because a) the arresting officer realizes there are mitigating circumstances, or b) he or she acts with compassion and chooses not to do a seizure for any number of reasons.

And be clear, towing a car incidental to arrest is not the same as seizing a car.

Guess what, folks. Most of the vehicles we do seize are taken from morons who know the risks of what they are doing and choose to do them anyway, or are repeat offenders who simply refuse to change their behavior.

"I believe in that case Plainfield had to pay off the bank that had the lien on the Viper to take possession. I believe the amount was around $30k.

Which made it a $60,000 theft from the owner, as the Vipers start at around $90,000. Definitely a completely unfitting penalty for the excessive speeding ticket. It was just legalized theft by the people who are supposed to enforce the law.

Like I said above, the police and the suspect should have to appear within hours for a probable cause and preliminary hearing to maintain due process.

And yes, the IRS is a terrorist organization with Gestapo powers; I can't wait until the freedom and rights loving Progressives use them as the Storm Troopers to intimidate citizens into purchasing a product from an Insurance Company. Maybe one owned by huge Obama supporter Warren Buffet or Obama backers AARP.

It seems like only a few years ago when Bill Clinton sent the Storm Troopers to audit his critics (when he wasn't busy selling pardons) like Rush Limbaugh or OReilly who were audited every year.

I wonder if the IRS will seize your house if you don't buy insurance and don't pay your fine, attach your wages, seize your bank accounts, impound your car and sell it or just imprison you until you tell them where the cash is?

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
By Anonymous 5678 on May 7, 2010 2:32 PM

JimWin,

You state, don't do the crime. But what if the cops are wrong? Which happens often. Should you really be penalized?

This whole concept that the government is right and you as the citizen have to prove them wrong is a bunch of BS. The IRS uses that rule constantly to punish people out of money and more importantly time.

I was always under the assumption of innocent until proven guilty was what we live by here. That can't be further from the truth in so many instances.

"..........I remember a few years ago when Plainfield used that law to steal a Dodge Viper from an excessive speeding ticket."

I believe in that case Plainfield had to pay off the bank that had the lien on the Viper to take possession. I believe the amount was around $30k.

JimWin,

You state, don't do the crime. But what if the cops are wrong? Which happens often. Should you really be penalized?

This whole concept that the government is right and you as the citizen have to prove them wrong is a bunch of BS. The IRS uses that rule constantly to punish people out of money and more importantly time.

I was always under the assumption of innocent until proven guilty was what we live by here. That can't be further from the truth in so many instances.

Is it the Gold or Bronze one? I'd come pick up the Gold one.

Thanks!

JimWin,

Congrats! You win naive person of the year award. Your mother must be so proud.

I may be wrong, but I believe even if you are found not guilty, you still have to pay towing and storage fees. I think that part of the law is wrong. I also believe that the law should only be used for serious felonies, not traffic related crimes. I remember a few years ago when Plainfield used that law to steal a Dodge Viper from an excessive speeding ticket. Basically, I don't think the law is fair.

If the law, that your elected officials have passed, states that a vehicle that has been used in the commission of a crime can be seized then that is pretty clear. Speed, get you car seized. Drive with a broken headlight, get your car seized. Expired plates? Get your car seized. Sounds pretty simple to me. Don't do the crime if you can't do the time (or pay the fine). Or get your elected officials to change the law.

Do you think the seized vehicle law is fair?

Of course it is not fair. First of all they have not been convicted. What happened to innocent until proven guilty? What's next taking away someones shoes for jaywalking?

If your teenaged child get stopped with an open container in your car, they have committed a crime - and the car can be confiscated. Note that you, the owner, have not committed a crime but are punished.

Q
Do you think this law is fair?

A
Is it fair to have people with 20-50 violations including drunk driving, no insurance and hit and run still driving around with no license 5 minutes after they get caught for the 20th time?

Like some counties in the South, having the person driven in a police car to a Justice of the Peace who could agree on the probable cause, or accept a guilty plea and a fine payment would make me feel better. In some counties, the Justice of the Peach drives around in their own PD like car. Due process is maintained this way.

Q
Is it an effective crime fighting technique, or a way for municipalities to make money?

A
Both, but more of an effective way to get dangerous drivers off of the road especially those with suspended licenses or no insurance. The $300K is chump change in the big picture.

The clunkers that remain seized, should be sent to a junk yard instead of back onto the street via fly by night used car dealers.

Q
Is it appropriate to take someone's vehicle for what could in some cases be a relatively minor crime?

A.

A minor crime like transporting 1 gram of marijuana 75 times a day, like a pizza delivery. This is the norm in the burbs. If you lend your vehicle for use as a transport vehicle and it is seized, too darn bad.

Once again the cops say it isn't about the money yet when they confiscate vehicles they use them for their own use or sell the vehicles and use the money for whatever reason they want. If it isn't about the money then why don't the police donate the vehicles? There are lots of community agencies that could match these vehicles up with needy people/families? If it isn't about the money then why don't the police earmark the funds from the vehicle sales to only be used to combat DUI or illegal drugs through education, awareness, etc. instead of using the vehicles for undercover use in just more enforcement which just leads to more confiscations?

IF there is such a value to the message being sent by confiscating vehicles then why aren't homes and other forms of personal and business property also being seized when used in the commission of a variety of crimes? If the message is to hit criminals where they will feel it the most then why not go after their largest asset?

As some more compassionate state attorneys have pointed out the people penalized the most are not always those who commit the actual crime. Less compassionate state attorneys, like Birkett, play by a double standard when it comes to their own kids and the trouble they get into and how they treat other peoples kids.

There are lots of inequities in the seizure and sale of vehicles that have not been fully tested for fairness and constitutionality. The current court challenges are long overdue and will be interesting to watch. These days some cars are only worth a couple of hundred dollars and others can be worth upwards of half a million dollars. There is supposed to be fairness and equality under the law yet there can be a huge difference in terms of the financial impact one car owner pays compared to another for the same or similar offense which isn't fundamentally fair or just. And not to be forgotten is that only car owners are penalized. Company owned vehicles, leased vehicles, rental vehicles, etc. are not treated the same. Even vehicle owners who may owe the bank a lot on the car versus cars owned free and clear are not treated the same. It all boils down to how easy it is to strip the title away from the owner.

One recent and interesting wrinkle that clearly shows how unfair the law is is the son of Cullerton driving a state vehicle and being involved in an accident while DUI... why hasn't a forfeiture proceeding been started to confiscate the state vehicle? Is it because of who the kid is? Is it because of who the father is? Or is it because the State of Illinois is the vehicle owner? A government employee/official who has possession of a government vehicle should be held just as accountable and responsible as anyone else. If someone in their household uses a government vehicle inappropriately and the vehicle gets confiscated they should be responsible for reimbursing the government for the lost value of the vehicle.

There should be no special treatment under the law though the big differences in vehicle values still needs to be addressed as does the whole aspect of due process.

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This page contains a single entry by Chris Magee, moderator published on May 4, 2010 9:16 PM.

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