How canI get seized property back without a lawyer?

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How canI get seized property back without a lawyer?

I was arrested at a casino. I was walking back in after going out to my friend’s car with him to get more money that I had in my coat that was in the car. I was stopped at the front door by a police officer who told me that I smelled like marijuana. He searched me and found nothing. Then he asked whose car it was and my friend said that it was his. The officer then asked if they could search the car and my friend replied that he didn’t know if the car was registered to him or to his father. At that time more police officers showed up and I was taken out side and searched again. I was then put in the back seat of a police car and then they put my friend in the back seat of the with me. they proceeded to search his car. In it they found my coat which had inside of it a metal grinder with a half gram of marijuana and a little 1 hitter bowl. Additionally, there were 7 $100 bills. On me I had $453, a cell phone, and a pack of cigarettes. I went to jail and had video court in the morning. They told me that they were holding my money as drug money and that I would have to go to court to fight for my money back. Is this legal? And if so, how do I get my money back without the expense of getting a lawyer?

Asked on January 28, 2011 under Criminal Law, Illinois

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

First of all, I think that you have greater concerns than just getting your money and property back.  While you didn't indicate the offense(s) with which you were charged, the fact that the cash is being held as drug money, implies that you are facing some sort of drug dealing charge.  You need an attorney to handle this for you.  The penalties for such a conviction can be severe have life-long consequences. 

An experienced criminal law attorney may be able get your case dismissed on a technicality, get the charge reduced, or win an acquittal at trial.  If money is an issue and you can't afford to retain a private attorney, see if you qualify under the income guidelines for having a Public Defender appointed to your case or see if you qualify for representation by Legal Aid.  Also, if there is a law school nearby to the court in question check to see if they run a free/low cost clinic; typically they do. Also, contact the local Bar Association in the applicable county; they may have a list of attorneys who will take your case "pro bono" (for free) or at least for a reduced fee based on your income/circumstances.  


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