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When police seize personal items, how long can they hold them and how can one get them back?

Murphysboro, IL |

in a business/residence, items were taken almost a month ago. no charges have been filed, no phone calls answered or returned. no lawyer will deal with this because they can get no answers, either! items taken were not on search warrant. the way the search and seizure was handled doesn't seem right. where can we go for help?

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Attorney answers 2


Hello. I can understand your frustration. The items taken which were not on the search warrant should not have been taken at all. Your best remedy is to file a lawsuit against the police officers involved. You will need a lawyer. Phone calls and letter writing will not get you what you want. In my opinion, a lawsuit for the relief that you are seeking can be filed in the State Court.

My comments are for informational purposes only. I am only licensed to practice law in the State of Illinois. I urge you to obtain legal representation in the State of your residence, if your question pertains to a legal issue outside of the State of Illinois. Even if you are a resident of Illinois this notification serves as a disclaimer with regard to statements made by me. I am not your attorney and as a public service, only,I have commented and given my opinion on the question posed by you on this web site. You should seek formal representation from an attorney of your choice prior to taking action on your matter and you should take the time to meet with that attorney and enter into a formal retainer with him or her if you want them to represent you in your particular legal matter. My comments here are based upon the limited facts that I have been provided with in this online communication forum and you should not rely on my comments as if I am your attorney, but should seek independent counsel to discuss your case.


Notwithstanding that the items seized were not listed on the search warrant, there are a number of legal grounds on which the police were permitted to take them. The fact that the items have not yet been returned, along with the fact that there was a search warrant issued, strongly suggests that there is an on-going criminal investigation which is not yet complete.If so, the police will not confirm that fact to you or your attorney, and they are not legally required to do so. The police will keep the items until the investigation is complete and the prosecutor has made a charging decision. Then they may keep the items until the charges have been resolved in court and, if there is a conviction or the evidence showed that the items were used in unlawful conduct, the items maybe retained even past the resolution of the case -- and possibly destroyed or forfeited.

You can file a lawsuit as the prior responder suggested, but it is highly unlikely to be successful at this time. A civil court will not intervene in an on-going criminal investigation.

Your best course is to retain a skilled criminal defense attorney to pro-actively address the potential for criminal charges based on the on-going investigation in which the items were seized. That attorney will recognize any opportunities to carve out from the investigation the items seized and make an appropriate overture to the prosecutor for return of the items, or a motion in the criminal case for their return.

My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as legal advice. I give legal advice only in the course of an attorney-client relationship. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by individual consultation and execution of a written agreement for legal services.

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