Civil Asset Forfeiture

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Pennsylvania has one of the least stringent civil forfeiture laws in the country. Under these laws, the government can legally take property it claims is connected to illegal activity. This includes money, cars, even homes. The government does not have to convict or even charge the property owner in order to seize the property. For example, the government could seize a person’s car if it was used in a crime, even if the owner was never a party to the activity. In some cases, the state has seized an individual’s home even when the homeowner is not accused of any criminal activity.

Further, if you are charged with a crime and the charges are later dismissed, you are not immediately entitled to the return of your property that was seized by law enforcement. The government only needs to connect the property to a crime by a preponderance of the evidence in order to retain seizure of the property.

Property owners do not have the same constitutional rights in forfeiture cases as they have in other criminal proceedings. As such, many are never even notified their property is subject to forfeiture proceedings. In fact, most civil forfeitures in Pennsylvania end without the property owner ever appearing before a judge. This allows prosecutors to take the property without ever presenting evidence. Further, since there is no right to counsel, most give innocent parties give up and their valuable assets are never returned.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, in the past decade, Pennsylvania law enforcement has taken over $100 million in private assets through civil forfeiture. In the most recent year on record, Pennsylvania seized $1.11 million in cash through civil forfeiture. The government retains 100% of the profits from the property they seize if it is not returned to the owner.

At the Law Offices of Gregory J. Pagano, we represent individuals whose property has been seized through civil forfeiture. We help our clients recover the property which rightfully belongs to them. We have had success getting the majority of our clients’ property returned even when they have pled guilty to a crime. Over the last few years, Pennsylvania has been more inclined to return property seized through civil forfeiture if the party is willing to come to court and fight for it. It is a common mistake for criminal defense attorneys not to try to get their client’s property back. At the Law Offices of Gregory J. Pagano, we can fight for you to get back the property that is rightfully yours.

At the Law Office of Gregory J. Pagano, We have recovered millions of dollars in assets – cash, real estate, automobiles and jewelry – from law enforcement on behalf of our clients

Sarah is an absolute genius. She worked above and beyond to get me my property back. I went through 3 different attorneys, and they all told me ” you can forget about your property, you’ll never get it back” . Not Sarah… she rolled up her sleeves, and got right to business. When I received the call from Mr. Pagano’s office, to pick up a check, and my property, I was in complete shock!!! Sarah Jones is the real deal. I recommend her any day. Thanks again Sarah. Phenomenal work.



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