Can police seizure you car if you have not been charged with a crime?

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Can police seizure you car if you have not been charged with a crime?

I was arrested 36 days ago and released but was not charged with anything. I was the driver of my car and the police has not released it, when spoke to officer about release he said I may not get it back because he was filling papers for seizure. It is now 36 days later and I have not heard anything from police. They will not return calls and I have not received anything from court. What should I do?

Asked on September 21, 2011 under Criminal Law, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You should retain an attorney to fight this, but be aware that it may be possible for the authorities to seize and keep your car. The law permits property--including vehicles--which is either the fruit of criminal activity (e.g. was paid for with ill-gotten gains) or, more importantly, used in the commission of criminal activity, to be seized. That means if your car was used in some way in committing a crime--for example, it was used to transport drugs; drugs were sold out of it; a passenger robbed a liquor store, then got into your car and you drove him away from the crime (e.g. your car was effectively the "getaway" car)--the police may be able to seize it. This power is very broad, by the way; when I was at the U.S. Attorney's Office in the early '90s, I worked on a case where we seized an entire  home because the homeowner's son sold drugs out of her garage. So while it may be possible to fight this and keep your car, take this very seriously and get a lawyer to help you.


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