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Chicagoans should think twice before permitting passengers.

On July 27, 2012, in Uncategorized, by Scott Alexander Meiner

An Illinois appellate court rejected Ivy Jackson’s challenge to Chicago Municipal Code § 7-24-225, which provides that the owner of a vehicle found to contain controlled substances or cannabis is liable for an administrative penalty and permits the taking of their vehicle. Because Chicago Municipal Code still lacks an innocent owner defense, a vehicle owner can lose their car despite a lack of knowledge of the presence of controlled substances or cannabis and despite a lack of participation in the alleged controlled substances or cannabis presence.

While Jackson was elsewhere, her parked car was occupied by two individuals who allegedly possessed a 1.4 gram cigar containing cannabis and a bag with approximately 1.6 grams of cannabis. The individuals were arrested and the automobile was seized by the city.

Jackson argued, among other things, that substantive due process demands the capacity to raise an innocent owner defense and that  because her due process rights were violated when she was prevented from raising an innocent owner defense, she therefore suffered from an unreasonable seizure.

Whether due process does demand it, or it merely should, legislators are capable of requiring that an innocent owner defense be afforded to anyone who cares to argue one. They should move quickly to do so.

It is strange and inhumane to permit police departments to acquire your car because someone else, absent your permission or knowledge, allegedly possessed a small amount of cannabis in your vehicle (according to the police department).

Until then, residents of Chicago might want to consider banning passengers from their vehicles as anyone could, unbeknownst to you, potentially possess the passport to your car’s forfeiture. Of course, forbidding passengers might not do enough to prevent the impounding of your vehicle. Chicago’s current code is written so unfairly that you might be eligible to have your vehicle re-taken if someone steals it and is caught with a controlled substance while you are on vacation:

“(a) The owner of record of any motor vehicle that contains
any controlled substance or cannabis, as defined in the Controlled
Substances Act, 720 ILCS 570/100, et seq., and the Cannabis
Control Act, 720 ILCS 550/1, et seq., or that is used in the
purchase, attempt to purchase, sale or attempt to sell such
controlled substances or cannabis shall be liable to the city for an
administrative penalty of $1,000.00 plus any applicable towing and
storage fees. Any such vehicle shall be subject to seizure and
impoundment pursuant to this section. This subsection shall not
apply: (1) if the vehicle used in the violation was stolen at the time
and the theft was reported to the appropriate police authorities
within 24 hours after the theft was discovered ***; (2) if the
vehicle is operating as a common carrier and the violation occurs
without the knowledge of the person in control of the vehicle; or
(3) if the owner proves that the presence of the controlled
substance or cannabis was authorized under the Controlled
Substances Act or the Cannabis Control Act.”

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12 Responses to “Chicagoans should think twice before permitting passengers.”

  1. Jen says:

    I hope Ms Jackson filed some type of pleading asserting a violation of the Excessive Fines Clause of the US const (applicable to the states via 14th amend). This type of seizure & forfeiture would most certainly violate the Clause.

    • Jen,
      It appears that she did not (or at least, that the appellate court did not address the issue in their opinion). Ms. Jackson filed pro se and that argument may have escaped her. As you point out, there was a good reason for her to assert the argument. The appellate court relied heavily on Towers v. City of Chicago, 173 F.3d 619, 627 (7th Cir. 1999) and Bennis v. Michigan, 516 U.S. 442 (1996). The Towers court considered that argument. The Towers court ultimately rejected it for Towers’ purposes, concluding “that the fine is not so disproportionate to the gravity of the conduct as to offend the strictures of the Excessive Fines Clause” in light that Towers (and fellow plaintiffs) failed to report their cars stolen and thus the court read some tacit consent. However, they left open that possibility for harsher fines. [The Towers fine was $500.] Although it is unknown whether the Illinois appellate court would have read an 8th Amendment argument sympathetically, Jackson’s case could have been a good test case for further appeal.

      It should also be said that it is not clear that the Bennis decision would survive today.

      Excessiveness and proportionality arguments have been used by other courts in their analysis of forfeiture actions where it was difficult to imagine a moral transgression on the claimant’s part-or if there was a minor failure of prudence that the penalty was grotesquely disproportionate (including the Texas case where federal agents appeared to confuse a couple into misreporting their bulk currency amount (http://forfeiturereform.com/2012/04/05/guessing-is-not-a-material-omission-or-a-misstatement-of-fact-certainly-not-one-the-government-can-use-to-steal-the-money-our-homeland-will-not-be-secure-by-these-rascals-they-played-agency-ga/).

  2. [...] Chicago, cops can steal your car by claiming to discover even a tiny amount of marijuana on one of your [...]

  3. Max says:

    And if there is no marijuana in the card when the cops get there, there soon will be.

  4. Chris says:

    Everyone is flat broke. People, cities, states and the federal government, the entire world is flat broke. Nobody cared about these laws when they were written but now that they are starting to be exercised you will see what the elected official has really been up to.

  5. [...] of pot, her car still gets taken by the cops. Just another example of our crazy forfeiture system. READ MORE… Share and [...]

  6. [...] Chicago police can "legally" steal your car If we cannot learn, if the only effect upon us of the presence of the dynamiter in our midst is to make us multiply punishments, invent restrictions, increase the number of our official spies, forbid public meetings, interfere with the press, put up gratings — as in one country they propose to do — in our House of Commons, scrutinize visitors under official microscopes, request them, as at Vienna, and I think now at Paris also, to be good enough to leave their greatcoats in the vestibules … I venture to prophesy that there lies before us a bitter and an evil time. — Auberon Herbert [...]

  7. David says:

    None of this matters anyway. If the city seizes your car, they can keep it for months while it racks up thousands of dollars in impound fees. This gives the DA plenty of time to decide whether to pursue a Forfeiture case.

    Politicians once viewed citizens as cows to be milked until dry. Now, with tax revenues declining, citizens are no longer to be milked, they are to be bled until dry.

    I remain astonished that Joe Citizen accepts his position on the Political Plantation, smug in the belief that as long as the overseers are whipping someone else more than he, all’s well.

  8. [...] to ForfeitureForum.com, a state appeals court recently rejected one woman’s plea to overturn the taking of her vehicle [...]

  9. URL says:

    … [Trackback]…

    [...] Find More Informations here: forfeiturereform.com/2012/07/27/chicagoans-should-think-twice-before-permitting-passengers/ [...]…

  10. [...] Chicago, cops can steal your car by claiming to discover even a tiny amount of marijuana on one of your [...]

  11. [...] Chicagoans should think twice before permitting passengers. I can't remember if I got this link from a thread on Ingo or somewhere else but it gives some more insight to the BS that is happening in $hicago. [...]

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