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Article 36: Seizure and Forfeiture of Vehicles

Article 36: Seizure and Forfeiture of Vehicles

In Article 36 of the Illinois Criminal Code, lawmakers address regulations related to the seizure and forfeiture of vehicles. The government often has the power to seize the vehicles of citizens over whom it has governance, but only when law enforcement authorities have proof that it was used in the commission of a crime. However, because this is a significant power vested in government authorities, there are many regulations dictating its usage.

Any vessel, vehicle, or aircraft used in the commission of certain crimes, which are listed in the text of the Illinois Criminal Code below, may be seized and delivered to the county sheriff. Within 15 days of the seizure, the sheriff must give notice of the seizure to the vehicles proprietor.

However, if the States Attorney finds that the owner of the vehicle did not have intention to commit the offense, or if his acts were not negligent, then he is entitled to the return of the property from the sheriff. The vehicle must be returned on terms that the States Attorney finds reasonable and just.

Need an Illinois criminal defense attorney? If you've been charged with a crime in Illinois, call our Chicago criminal defense attorneys today at (312) 466-9466 to discuss your case.

The text below comes from Article 36 of the Illinois Criminal Code of 1961. This law may have changed -- please read the important legal disclaimer at the bottom of this page.

Illinois Criminal Code of 1961 - Article 36

(Text of Section from P.A. 96-313)
    (720 ILCS 5/36-1)

Sec. 36-1. Seizure.

Any vessel, vehicle or aircraft used with the knowledge and consent of the owner in the commission of, or in the attempt to commit as defined in Section 8-4 of this Code, an offense prohibited by (a) Section 9-1, 9-3, 10-2, 11-6, 11-15.1, 11-19.1, 11-19.2, 11-20.1, 12-4.1, 12-4.2, 12-4.2-5, 12-4.3, 12-4.6, 12-7.3, 12-7.4, 12-13, 12-14, 18-2, 19-1, 19-2, 19-3, 20-1, 20-2, 29D-15.2, 24-1.2, 24-1.2-5, 24-1.5, or 28-1 of this Code, paragraph (a) of Section 12-4 of this Code, paragraph (a) of Section 12-15 or paragraphs (a), (c) or (d) of Section 12-16 of this Code, or paragraph (a)(6) or (a)(7) of Section 24-1 of this Code; (b) Section 21, 22, 23, 24 or 26 of the Cigarette Tax Act if the vessel, vehicle or aircraft contains more than 10 cartons of such cigarettes; (c) Section 28, 29 or 30 of the Cigarette Use Tax Act if the vessel, vehicle or aircraft contains more than 10 cartons of such cigarettes; (d) Section 44 of the Environmental Protection Act; (e) 11-204.1 of the Illinois Vehicle Code; (f) the offenses described in the following provisions of the Illinois Vehicle Code: Section 11-501 subdivisions (c-1)(1), (c-1)(2), (c-1)(3), (d)(1)(A), (d)(1)(D), (d)(1)(G), or (d)(1)(H); (g) an offense described in subsection (g) of Section 6-303 of the Illinois Vehicle Code; or (h) an offense described in subsection (e) of Section 6-101 of the Illinois Vehicle Code; may be seized and delivered forthwith to the sheriff of the county of seizure.

Within 15 days after such delivery the sheriff shall give notice of seizure to each person according to the following method: Upon each such person whose right, title or interest is of record in the office of the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Transportation, the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Agency, or any other Department of this State, or any other state of the United States if such vessel, vehicle or aircraft is required to be so registered, as the case may be, by mailing a copy of the notice by certified mail to the address as given upon the records of the Secretary of State, the Department of Aeronautics, Department of Public Works and Buildings or any other Department of this State or the United States if such vessel, vehicle or aircraft is required to be so registered. Within that 15 day period the sheriff shall also notify the State's Attorney of the county of seizure about the seizure.

In addition, any mobile or portable equipment used in the commission of an act which is in violation of Section 7g of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Act shall be subject to seizure and forfeiture under the same procedures provided in this Article for the seizure and forfeiture of vessels, vehicles and aircraft, and any such equipment shall be deemed a vessel, vehicle or aircraft for purposes of this Article.

When a person discharges a firearm at another individual from a vehicle with the knowledge and consent of the owner of the vehicle and with the intent to cause death or great bodily harm to that individual and as a result causes death or great bodily harm to that individual, the vehicle shall be subject to seizure and forfeiture under the same procedures provided in this Article for the seizure and forfeiture of vehicles used in violations of clauses (a), (b), (c), or (d) of this Section.

If the spouse of the owner of a vehicle seized for an offense described in subsection (g) of Section 6-303 of the Illinois Vehicle Code, a violation of subdivision (c-1)(1), (c-1)(2), (c-1)(3), (d)(1)(A), or (d)(1)(D) of Section 11-501 of the Illinois Vehicle Code, or Section 9-3 of this Code makes a showing that the seized vehicle is the only source of transportation and it is determined that the financial hardship to the family as a result of the seizure outweighs the benefit to the State from the seizure, the vehicle may be forfeited to the spouse or family member and the title to the vehicle shall be transferred to the spouse or family member who is properly licensed and who requires the use of the vehicle for employment or family transportation purposes. A written declaration of forfeiture of a vehicle under this Section shall be sufficient cause for the title to be transferred to the spouse or family member. The provisions of this paragraph shall apply only to one forfeiture per vehicle. If the vehicle is the subject of a subsequent forfeiture proceeding by virtue of a subsequent conviction of either spouse or the family member, the spouse or family member to whom the vehicle was forfeited under the first forfeiture proceeding may not utilize the provisions of this paragraph in another forfeiture proceeding. If the owner of the vehicle seized owns more than one vehicle, the procedure set out in this paragraph may be used for only one vehicle.

Property declared contraband under Section 40 of the Illinois Streetgang Terrorism Omnibus Prevention Act may be seized and forfeited under this Article. (Source: P.A. 96-710, eff. 1-1-10.)

(720 ILCS 5/36-1a) (from Ch. 38, par. 36-1a)

Sec. 36-1a. Rights of lienholders and secured parties.

The State's Attorney shall promptly release a vessel, vehicle or aircraft seized under the provisions of this Article to any lienholder or secured party whose right, title or interest is of record as described in Section 36-1 if such lienholder or secured party shows to the State's Attorney that his lien or secured interest is bona fide and was created without actual knowledge that such vessel, vehicle or aircraft was used or to be used in the commission of the offense charged. (Source: Laws 1965, p. 2868.)

Sec. 36-2. Action for forfeiture.
    (720 ILCS 5/36-2)

(a) The State's Attorney in the county in which such seizure occurs if he finds that such forfeiture was incurred without willful negligence or without any intention on the part of the owner of the vessel, vehicle or aircraft or any person whose right, title or interest is of record as described in Section 36-1, to violate the law, or finds the existence of such mitigating circumstances as to justify remission of the forfeiture, may cause the sheriff to remit the same upon such terms and conditions as the State's Attorney deems reasonable and just. The State's Attorney shall exercise his discretion under the foregoing provision of this Section 36-2(a) promptly after notice is given in accordance with Section 36-1. If the State's Attorney does not cause the forfeiture to be remitted he shall forthwith bring an action for forfeiture in the Circuit Court within whose jurisdiction the seizure and confiscation has taken place. The State's Attorney shall give notice of the forfeiture proceeding by mailing a copy of the Complaint in the forfeiture proceeding to the persons, and upon the manner, set forth in Section 36-1. The owner of the seized vessel, vehicle or aircraft or any person whose right, title, or interest is of record as described in Section 36-1, may within 20 days after the mailing of such notice file a verified answer to the Complaint and may appear at the hearing on the action for forfeiture. The State shall show at such hearing by a preponderance of the evidence, that such vessel, vehicle or aircraft was used in the commission of an offense described in Section 36-1. The owner of such vessel, vehicle or aircraft or any person whose right, title, or interest is of record as described in Section 36-1, may show by a preponderance of the evidence that he did not know, and did not have reason to know, that the vessel, vehicle or aircraft was to be used in the commission of such an offense or that any of the exceptions set forth in Section 36-3 are applicable. Unless the State shall make such showing, the Court shall order such vessel, vehicle or aircraft released to the owner. Where the State has made such showing, the Court may order the vessel, vehicle or aircraft destroyed; may order it delivered to any local, municipal or county law enforcement agency, or the Department of State Police or the Department of Revenue of the State of Illinois; or may order it sold at public auction.

(b) A copy of the order shall be filed with the sheriff of the county in which the seizure occurs and with each Federal or State office or agency with which such vessel, vehicle or aircraft is required to be registered. Such order, when filed, constitutes authority for the issuance of clear title to such vehicle, aircraft, or boat to the department or agency to whom it is delivered or any purchaser thereof. The sheriff shall comply promptly with instructions to remit received from the State's Attorney or Attorney General in accordance with Sections 36-2(a) or 36-3.

(c) The proceeds of any sale at public auction pursuant to Section 36-2 of this Act, after payment of all liens and deduction of the reasonable charges and expenses incurred by the sheriff in storing and selling such vehicle, shall be paid into the general fund of the county of seizure. (Source: P.A. 84-25.)

Sec. 36-3. Exceptions to forfeiture.
    (720 ILCS 5/36-3)

(a) No vessel, vehicle, or aircraft used by any person as a common carrier in the transaction of business as such common carrier may be forfeited under the provisions of Section 36-2 unless it appears that (1) in the case of a railway car or engine, the owner, or (2) in the case of any other such vessel, vehicle or aircraft, the owner or the master of such vessel or the owner or conductor, driver, pilot, or other person in charge of such vehicle or aircraft was at the time of the alleged illegal act a consenting party or privy thereto.

(b) No vessel, vehicle, or aircraft shall be forfeited under the provisions of Section 36-2 by reason of any act or omission established by the owner thereof to have been committed or omitted by any person other than such owner while such vessel, vehicle, or aircraft was unlawfully in the possession of a person who acquired possession thereof in violation of the criminal laws of the United States, or of any state. (Source: Laws 1965, p. 2868.)

Sec. 36-4. Remission by Attorney General.
    (720 ILCS 5/36-4)

Whenever any owner of, or other person interested in, a vessel, vehicle, or aircraft seized under the provisions of this Act files with the Attorney General before the sale or destruction of such vessel, vehicle, or aircraft, a petition for the remission of such forfeiture the Attorney General if he finds that such forfeiture was incurred without willful negligence or without any intention on the part of the owner or any person whose right, title or interest is of record as described in Section 36-1, to violate the law, or finds the existence of such mitigating circumstances as to justify the remission of forfeiture, may cause the same to be remitted upon such terms and conditions as he deems reasonable and just, or order discontinuance of any forfeiture proceeding relating thereto. (Source: Laws 1965, p. 2868.)

   Return to Illinois Criminal Code of 1961 Table of Contents

DISCLAIMER: These excerpts from the law are provided for reference purposes only. Visitors to our Chicago criminal defense lawyer website should be aware that Illinois criminal laws have been amended many times and that Illinois crime laws posted on this site may not be current. In addition, Illinois criminal case law defines precedents for legal determinations that are not defined in the original laws.

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