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Cash is Subject to Forfeiture based upon involvement in Drug Transaction

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A claimant must be prepared to prove that they owned the money lawfully and it had no involvement in drug activity

By Attorney Elisabeth K.H. Pasqualini, Drug Crimes Defense Lawyer, Harrisburg, PA

As a necessary function of representing defendants charged with drug crimes, I have dealt with forfeitures of cars, cash, guns and other items used in or involved in the "transactional activity." 

Pursuant to the Controlled substances forfeiture act, 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 6801, there are certain items that are automatically subject to forfeiture without any further civil proceedings.  These items include:

(1) All drug paraphernalia, controlled substances or other drugs which have been manufactured, distributed, dispensed or acquired in violation of the Controlled Substance Act

(2) All raw materials, products and equipment of any kind which are used, or intended for use, in manufacturing, compounding, processing, delivering, importing or exporting any controlled substance or other drug in violation of The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act.

(3) All property which is used, or intended for use, as a container for property described in paragraph (1) or (2).

(4) All conveyances, including aircraft, vehicles or vessels, which are used or are intended for use to transport, or in any manner to facilitate the transportation, sale, receipt, possession or concealment of, property described in paragraph (1) or (2).

Forfeitures involving Cash

In forfeiture proceedings involving money, the Commonwealth bears the initial burden of proving that forfeiture was appropriate by establishing, by a preponderance of the evidence ("more likely than not"), that a nexus (relationship) exists between the money and a violation of the Controlled Substance Act.  Once the Commonwealth sustains its initial burden of proving a nexus between money seized and illegal drug activity by a preponderance of the evidence, the burden shifts to the claimant to rebut the presumption that the money is forfeitable.  In order to rebut the presumption that money seized is forfeitable, the claimant must establish that: (1) he owned the money; (2) he lawfully acquired it; and (3) it was not unlawfully used or possessed by him.  However, money which helps to facilitate drug violations is no less subject to forfeit than drug proceeds.

Here, if the money that was possessed by a claimant was not directly involved in the transaction (is wasn't being used to buy or sell drugs), but was being used to make change or assist in any way with the transaction, then it is subject to forfeiture.  If you have been charged with a drug offense and have cash that is subject to forfeiture, contact the experienced drug transaction attorneys at Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC toll free or email us today.

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