Illinoisans gain more protection from asset forfeiture
Gov. Bruce Rauner recently signed bipartisan legislation to reform civil asset forfeiture in Illinois and ensure that the law enforcement tool is used correctly and prudently, according to a press release.
“Illinois residents should be protected from the unfair seizure of their private property,” Rauner said in a statement. “This legislation will enact needed reforms to prevent abuse of the civil asset forfeiture process, while maintaining its importance as a critical tool for law enforcement to make our communities safer.”
The new law provides increased transparency and more sanction authority in cases where forfeiture rules are violated. The law also increases the government’s burden of proof from probable cause to a preponderance of evidence, whichbrings Illinois in line with federal asset forfeiture requirements.
Another change increases the threshold of controlled substance possession that can trigger asset forfeiture, so that the system is used to target criminal elements like drug trafficking organizations or drug distributors, rather than drug possessors.
“I am glad Illinois has taken this dramatic step forward, especially while the federal government seems poised to go backwards on this issue,” Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) said in the release. “It's a simple concept – the government should have to prove that it has a right to take your property, not the other way around.”