Civil Asset Forfeiture

Pennsylvania’s Civil Asset Forfeiture Law has been disputed many times in court as a law that gives too much power to the police without giving them the burden of proof. Under PA’s Civil Asset Forfeiture Law, a police officer or government entity is legally allowed to take any property suspected to have been involved in or connected with illegal activity.

Despite seeming straightforward, there’s a catch. The law doesn’t require any proof that the items being seized were actually involved, nor does it ensure that the owner of seized property is actually charged with a crime. This is called Seizure Without Process and says that any property can be seized as “incident to an arrest or search under a search warrant” or if there “is probably cause to believe that the property has been used or is intended to be used in violation of the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act.”

Additionally, property owners who have their possessions taken under this law are not entitled to legal counsel or any constitutional protections that a citizen normally accused of a crime has. The property goes through Civil proceedings, not criminal courts, and oftentimes, the owner is not notified of these proceedings. As a result, the prosecution can retain ownership of this property without ever presenting evidence before a Judge in court.

The property subject to this law can include but is not limited to, personal homes, cars, cash, credit cards, phones, tablets, and laptops.

If you are the victim of unjust property seizure, or have questions about your rights under the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act, contact Tim Fleming at wtfleming@fleminglaw.info or call 814-278-5280.

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111 Sowers St

Suite #330

State College, PA 16801