Under Pennsylvania forfeiture law, the Government can ask to seize property and other assets it claims were used in the commission of a crime or purchased with ill-gotten gains. Forfeiture law has become a ubiquitous and controversial part of the “War on Drugs.” Typically, the Government files a forfeiture action to take the home, car, jewelry, cash reserves, and other assets of someone convicted of a drug offense. Although forfeiture actions are related to criminal cases, they are technically civil in nature — meaning that the Government’s burden of proof is lower and it is easier for the state to win.
In recent years, asset forfeiture has been expanding in suburban Pennsylvania. From 2012 to 2017, Berks County had the highest forfeiture per capita in the state.
Although just 418,000 people reside in Berks, DA Adams has brought in $4.6 million from cash seizures over five years. The figure equates to 9% of his total office budget. That total is a shade more than Allegheny County, home to the city of Pittsburgh and more than a million residents. Per capita, law enforcement in Berks brought in the equivalent of $11 dollars for every person in the county, while Allegheny brought in just $3 dollars for every resident. (Source: WHYY)
Too often, families reeling from the conviction and incarceration of a loved one give up on forfeiture actions without a fight. Anyone who has ever had a joint checking account knows that money mingles. It can be hard to determine exactly which assets are the product of hard work and which are the product of crime. But if you don’t respond to a forfeiture lawsuit before the deadline, you may end up losing assets that have nothing to do with crime and are important for your future.
Drug Forfeiture Defense in Reading, PA
If you or someone close to you has been convicted of a crime and is facing a forfeiture action, don’t ignore it or try to go it alone. Valuable assets are on the line. Schedule an appointment with an M&R criminal defense attorney, and put the experts on your side.
We are former Reading Assistant District Attorneys who have worked extensively in this complex area of the law. We will review your case to see how you can best challenge a forfeiture claim and protect your property rights. In some cases, we can negotiate with the Government to protect or recover your assets without having to return to court.