Pennsylvania allows for the government to take your property and possessions through two types of forfeitures. The most common type of forfeiture is at the end of a criminal case; the items that were seized during the case as evidence are destroyed. This type of forfeiture is also used to seize Defendants’ property that was not illegal contraband, such as vehicles and cash.
This type of forfeiture has been ruled to be limited only to items that are illegal to possess. The second way Pennsylvania can take your property is through civil forfeiture. This process is granted to the government by statutes.
Forfeiture of Assets, Controlled Substances Forfeiture, specifically 42 PACSA 5802. This statute allows for forfeitures of money, conveyances, houses, equipment, or any item that can be linked to drug proceeds, including jewelry and firearms, that are used or intended to be used in violation of crimes under The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device, and Cosmetic Act; with the exception of small amounts of marijuana.
The Commonwealth bears the burden of establishing, by a preponderance of the evidence, that a nexus exists between the unlawful activity and the property subject to forfeiture. If they fail to prove a nexus, the case should be dismissed and forfeiture should not be allowed. If the Court deems that a nexus has been shown, then the Defense must prove that the items taken are not from Drug funds or Drug proceeds. The Courts of Pennsylvania have not been clear on how they are going to decide these cases.
This is a challenging process and must be handled properly as there are timelines on different filing that must be met or a default judgement can be entered against you. Each situation is unique to their set of facts. It is important that you bring an experienced team to join you in the fight against the Government. The team at Manchester and Associates has decades of experience and training in dealing with civil forfeiture cases. Should you find yourself in a situation where you need legal representation you need to contact attorneys that are going to know the law inside and out. For more information relating to your specific situation, contact our team for a free consultation with our toll free number (800)-243-4878 or reach us through the contact tab at the top of the page.