Property Seizure Laws in Philadelphia
The District Attorney’s office uses the Pennsylvania Drug Act – 42 Pa.C.S. Sec. 6801 – to confiscate property, cars, homes, and cash that they say has some “nexus” to drug activity.
The problem is that the District Attorney’s office uses the term “nexus” liberally and the term is not clearly defined. Because of this, the Government can essentially take whatever they want from you, give you a property receipt for it, and then try to claim that they now own it based on this “nexus” to drug activity. And the big problem with this system is that the District Attorney can seize your assets even if the charges are dropped or you are found not guilty of the crime.
Property Seizure Process
Following a seizure, the District Attorney’s office will file paperwork claiming the property as seized, and deliver that paperwork to wherever they believe you live. If not responded to in a set amount of time, the District Attorney's office will claim the property as properly seized, then sell it at auction and keep the money.
This process is problematic, especially in a situation where a property owner may be incarcerated for the very crime which the District Attorney is seizing their property. Yes, it is entirely possible that you may not receive the paperwork for your property seizure because you are in jail, the charges get dropped at the first listing, and the District Attorney’s office still attempts to keep your home, car and money claiming you did not respond in a timely manner.
So what do I do if my property is seized?
Ask for a property receipt. If any assets are seized, you have a right to a property receipt listing the seized items.
Retain an experienced property seizure lawyer immediately and give the property receipt to them.
Communicate with your lawyer about all details of the case – especially about what was taken from you. This is important because sometimes police will take money from a defendant, and not note that money on a property receipt. Timing is very important in these matters.
If your property is seized, you must file a property return petition with the Court, request a hearing date, and try your case before a judge. The assistance of an experienced property seizure lawyer is invaluable in these proceedings.
What property can be seized?
The District Attorney’s office uses the Drug Act to not only seize a defendant’s property, they seize any property that they claim has a “nexus” to the alleged crime – no matter who owns it. This means that the District Attorney's office can seize your parent’s home, your friend’s car, your brother’s apartment, or even a random home you entered before getting arrested.
If your items were taken in this manner, you need the help of an experience property seizure lawyer. Do not wait to seek out counsel. Time is of the essence. Philadelphia Property Seizure Lawyer Michael F. Niznik offers free consultations to all potential clients who are faced with a property seizure. Contact our office at 267-589-0601 to schedule a consultation today.