I recently got a question from a lady in Cupertino, California. She asked:
“We bought a condo for our son to live in while he was attending college in the Philadelphia suburbs. The police have arrested him for PWID out of the condo and the government has filed paperwork to seal our condo. We still have a large mortgage on the property and monthly bills. What can we do?”
Here’s the answer:
Pennsylvania law recognizes an “innocent owner defense” to property forfeiture cases, and your case is a classic example of an innocent owner. The government bears the burden to prove that you knew about your son’s alleged illegal activities and continued to consent to him using the property to make those drug sales. Clearly, you did not know about this. Given that you are all the way across the country in California, I would think it very difficult for the government to prove that you knew what was happening here in the Philadelphia area. The first step is to file a motion to unseal the house, which can be in front of a judge in a matter of days. The second step is to file a return of property motion. Based on my experience, I predict this is the type of case that can be negotiated with just a few telephone calls to the District Attorney.