Policing for Profit

Illinois earns a D- for its civil forfeiture laws.

Standard of Proof

Low bar to forfeit in most cases: In general, prosecutors’ standard is preponderance of the evidence. If a related criminal case results in acquittal or non-indictment, the standard is clear and convincing evidence. Forfeiture is not permitted for currency under $500 in drug cases and under $100 in all other cases.

Innocent Owner Burden

Poor protections for the innocent: Third-party owners must prove their own innocence to recover seized property at pretrial hearings.

Financial Incentive

Large profit incentive: 90% of forfeiture proceeds go to law enforcement.

The letter grade reflects the state’s forfeiture laws as of December 2020. When we become aware of relevant reforms, we are updating the standard of proof, innocent owner burden and financial incentive language above, but we are not updating the letter grade.

Recent Reforms

  • (2017) HB 303: Removed burden on owners to prove property is not subject to forfeiture; required government to prove owners’ culpability or negligence—which is not a crime—at forfeiture trial, though innocent owners still bear the burden of proving their own innocence at pretrial innocent owner hearings; eliminated bond requirement for owners challenging administrative forfeiture; strengthened transparency requirements.


  • End civil forfeiture
  • Direct all forfeiture proceeds to a non-law enforcement fund
  • Strengthen protections for innocent third-party owners
  • Close the equitable sharing loophole
  • Strengthen transparency and accountability requirements

State and Federal Forfeiture Revenues, 2000-2019

Between 2000 and 2019, Illinois law enforcement agencies forfeited more than $676 million under state law and generated an additional $364 million from federal equitable sharing, for a total of at least $1 billion in forfeiture revenue—averaging more than $50 million a year. Illinois ranks 46th for its participation in the Department of Justice’s equitable sharing program. The state does not prevent state and local agencies from using equitable sharing to circumvent state forfeiture law.

At least $1 billion in state and federal forfeiture revenue

Year Illinois Forfeiture Revenues Dept. of Justice Equitable Sharing Proceeds Treasury Equitable Sharing Proceeds
$0 ↦ $93,695,994
2000 $16,134,076 $9,754,782 $4,723,000
2001 $18,610,350 $8,386,258 $3,513,000
2002 $16,937,249 $6,618,603 $1,322,000
2003 $12,728,189 $7,284,801 $1,511,000
2004 $15,888,673 $8,529,033 $2,620,000
2005 $21,466,730 $8,004,118 $999,000
2006 $27,188,794 $12,102,313 $2,408,000
2007 $20,151,788 $13,460,269 $873,000
2008 $17,070,220 $13,761,071 $3,622,000
2009 $20,161,006 $13,838,679 $5,112,000
2010 $64,388,300 $21,585,139 $7,249,000
2011 $32,834,479 $16,586,155 $2,406,000
2012 $64,657,826 $25,793,168 $3,245,000
2013 $54,373,537 $20,912,725 $1,537,000
2014 $55,050,790 $16,143,203 $5,128,000
2015 $55,166,423 $19,364,854 $3,772,000
2016 $48,407,550 $12,584,194 $2,174,000
2017 $39,221,031 $20,288,523 $5,268,000
2018 $38,125,066 $21,498,057 $6,864,000
2019 $37,577,996 $16,047,774 $7,408,000
Totals $676,140,073 $292,543,719 $71,754,000
Department of Justice
All revenue figures include both civil and criminal forfeitures. Revenues are not adjusted for inflation.
Download Revenue Data Download Expenditurs Data

Illinois Forfeiture Transparency and Accountability Report Card

C Tracking Seized Property
C Accounting for Forfeiture Fund Spending
B Statewide Forfeiture Reports
A Accessibility of Forfeiture Records
F Penalties for Failure to File a Report
A Financial Audits of Forfeiture Accounts
For full transparency and accountability grades, visit

Forfeitures Under Illinois Law: Key Facts

Median Value

From 2015 to 2019, half of Illinois’ currency forfeitures were worth less than $755.

Property Types

From 2010 to 2019, more than three-quarters of Illinois’ forfeitures were of currency.

Civil vs. Criminal

Illinois does not report whether forfeitures are processed under civil or criminal forfeiture law.


In 2019, Illinois law enforcement spent $14 million from forfeiture funds—mostly on equipment, capital expenditures and operating expenses.

Data Notes

Property-level forfeiture proceeds data were obtained through public records requests to the Illinois State Police. Figures for 2000 through 2009 are in calendar years, while those for 2010 through 2019 are in fiscal years. 2019 covers thirteen months, July 2018 through July 2019. Expenditure data for calendar-year 2019 are from ISP’s website. Equitable sharing data are from DOJ’s and Treasury’s annual forfeiture reports. Due to differences in reporting and accounting practices, state figures may not match aggregate numbers produced by the state or cover the same 12-month period as the federal data.

Legal Sources

Standard of proof: In general, preponderance of the evidence. The standard of proof increases to clear and convincing evidence in certain situations where a related criminal case results in acquittal or non-indictment. Forfeiture is unavailable for currency under $500 related to drug possession offenses and under $100 for all other offenses.

725 Ill. Comp. Stat. 150/9(G), (G-5), (G-10), 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 570/505(d).

Innocent owner burden: Owner. At pretrial innocent owner hearings, the owner bears the burden of proof. However, if the forfeiture action goes to trial, the government must prove the owner’s culpability or negligence, which is not a crime.

725 Ill. Comp. Stat. 150/9.1, 150/9(G).

Financial incentive: 90%.

725 Ill. Comp. Stat. 150/13.2.