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Van Pelt law protects property rights, creates stricter guidelines for law enforcement

vanpelt 092017SPRINGFIELD – A new law sponsored by Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) protects the rights of property owners by making it harder for law enforcement to seize personal property from Illinois residents.

“For too long, law enforcement has had far reaching authority to seize property from individuals regardless of whether they’ve been convicted of a crime,” Van Pelt said. “Law enforcement agencies have been profiting off of individuals by keeping or selling their property and making it incredibly difficult for people to reclaim their possessions.”

Currently, law enforcement agencies can take property – including cash, vehicles and homes – if they suspect it was involved with or related to a crime. The property owner does not need to be charged or convicted of a crime for the state to seize and permanently forfeit the property.

“Reforming our civil asset forfeiture process is a major step forward for criminal justice reform,” Van Pelt said. “This measure protects the rights of people who often don’t have the means necessary to reclaim their property. I am pleased that the governor signed the legislation, and I am looking forward to advancing more criminal justice reforms in the future.”

House Bill 303 reforms the civil asset forfeiture process by increasing transparency and shifts the burden of proof in forfeiture cases to the prosecution. The measure also requires law enforcement to have a preponderance of evidence to seize property.

House Bill 303 was signed into law today. It takes effect on January 1, 2018.

Sen. Patricia Van Pelt

 Senator Patricia Van Pelt

5th Legislative District

Years Served: 2013 - Present

Committee assignments: Commerce and Economic Development; Criminal Law; Energy; Gaming; Public Health (Chairperson); State Government.

Biography: Born Nov. 12, 1957, in Chicago. Bachelor’s degree, Roosevelt University (1996); master’s degree, Spertus Institute (1996); doctorate, Capella University (2009); earned her CPA. Currently CEO of TARGET Area Development Corp. She has one child.