If you are accused with Drug Crimes then the government may try and complete a forfeiture of your house or car if the property had a significant relationship to the charges. heroin Things that may be forfeited by the government is money, cars and even houses. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently decided a case where they considered civil in rem forfeiture in Pennsylvania under the Excessive Fines Clause of the Eighth Amendment where the government attempted to seize through forfeiture a home and vehicle not based on any criminal conduct by the property owner but upon the illegal conduct of a third party. In that case, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. 1997 Chevrolet Decided May 25, 2017, the government was attempting to seize the house and motor vehicle of 71 year-old Elizabeth Young as her adult son had used both to conduct drug deals with confidential informants.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court took the opportunity to conduct, at some length, a review of the history of forfeiture from English common law to the present, discussing those Courts’ considerations of the Excessive Fines Clause in civil in rem and criminal in personem forfeitures.
In Drug Crimes cases dealing with forfeiture, instrumentality, the nexus of the property to the offence, is the first prong and threshold question of the analysis that a court will make. search warrants The Pa Supreme Court has listed a variety of factors it considered “non-exhaustive” to consider when making a determination of instrumentality. The main was however was whether the property has a significant relationship to the underlying offense. In the Chevrolet case, the criminal defendant was dealing drugs out of both appellee-owner’s house and car, and the Court agreed that the property the government sought to be forfeited was sufficiently instrumental to the underlying crime. It would appear, then, that the question in drug crime cases is not necessarily how much drugs or paraphernalia was found in the car but to what extent the car was involved with the possessing and distribution of drugs. If a successful argument can be made that the car was not sufficiently “instrumental”, if the number of vacuum bags were small, if the bags were unresinated, if the mere presence of paraphernalia was incidental, if the car were not used to transport, sell or hold drugs, the matter may end there and no further analysis be taken.