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Illinoiscriminal attorney, Illinois defense lawyerAnyone who has been arrested on criminal charges faces a great deal of financial hardship, including bail, court fees, fines, attorney’s fees, and the possible loss of income. But what many people do not know is that when they are arrested, police can seize their money or property if they believe that it was used to commit a crime. This is known as civil asset forfeiture.

While civil asset forfeiture is meant to provide law enforcement with tools to disrupt the activities of large scale criminal organizations, the practice has come under fire in recent years due to its increased use in a wide variety of criminal cases. Organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have argued that law enforcement officials disproportionately target lower-income individuals who do not have the resources to prove their innocence and reclaim their property.

These claims are backed up by studies from journalistic organizations such as Reason and the Chicago Reader, who analyzed data about civil forfeitures in Cook County. These studies showed that low-income neighborhoods in Chicago’s south side and west side were disproportionately targeted, especially for seizures of amounts less than $100.

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