Civil forfeiture is basically a money grab by government.
Under these laws, cops can seize property that they say is being used to commit a crime or was purchased with money they say came from doing something illegal.
The problem: The person doesn’t even have to be convicted of a crime in order for the government to confiscate the property.
Instead of seizing the yachts of drug kingpins, too often cops are nabbing the cars from little old ladies.
Don’t think so? Ask Judy Wiese of Moline.
She is a 70-year-old woman who cleaned houses and lived on $730 a month.
As first reported by the The Dispatch and Rock Island Argus, she lent her 2009 Jeep Compass to a grandson so he could drive to work.
The car was seized by police because the grandson’s driver’s license was revoked.
She told the newspaper that her grandson had told her otherwise.
Regardless, Judy hadn’t broken any laws. She was just a grandma helping out a grandson.
That was back in August. And this month she was still fighting to get the car back.
It seems that even though she did not commit a crime, she had to go to court and prove that her car was not connected to a crime nor was it the proceeds of crime.
She couldn’t afford a lawyer, struggled to write legal motions and was scolded by a judge for not having something notarized.
When her case ended up in the newspaper, a lawyer volunteered his services and her car was returned after being held for months.
You gotta be kidding me.
* But it’s all too real…
* Forfeiture law means woman paying for grandson’s crime
* Woman’s Jeep seized for grandson’s crime to be returned
* Editorial: Join chorus, demand due process in forfeiture laws
* Editorial: Let Wiese case spark reexamination of Illinois’ forfeiture laws: Equally importantly, we urge all who were moved by Ms. Wiese’s case to be energized and involved in demanding a reexamination of unfair forfeiture laws that allow governments to take the property of Illinois citizens without ever convicting them of a crime.