Forfeiture is a civil action that can be either handled without filing a lawsuit, or may require the filing of a lawsuit by the State. The nature of the property and its fair market value determines what procedure must be initiated. The failure of the State to properly begin such a case will result in a dismissal of the case. There are two forms of forfeiture. Judicial and Non-Judicial. And, there are multiple statutes through which the State may begin forfeiture. The Controlled Substances Act, Cannabis Control Act, and Crimes Forfeiture article. Each is similar but there are differences contained in each.
Although the forfeiture statutes are Illinois creations, the courts may look to federal decisions that are related. There is a fair amount of case law precedent in Illinois governing forfeitures. The 8th amendment constraints against unreasonable punishment is applicable.
When contesting a forfeiture the claimant (property owner) must file a verified response and pay a surety bond in order to begin fighting the forfeiture.
Forfeitures are very specifically worded and the statutes are strictly construed against the State. Any misfiling can result in a return of your property.
Consultation with an experienced attorney who has years of experience in forfeiture law is very important. We have obtained the return of large sums of money, aircraft, and vehicle to our clients. We cannot guarantee you will obtain similar relief as each case is very fact dependent. However, if you don't prepare for the forfeiture properly you will most likely lose the case.