A Pennsylvania appellate court has put new restrictions on the City of Philadelphia’s ability to seize property related to drug deals.

The 5-2 Commonwealth Court ruling keeps alive a civil forfeiture case involving a West Philadelphia homeowner, Elizabeth Young, who lost her house and car after her son was arrested in 2012 on a minor drug charge.

"The main focus of the appeal in this case was that [under] the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits excessive fines, the taking of her house and her car were excessive in relation to the gravity of the offense," said Mr. Young’s attorney Jessica Anthony. "Ms. Young ... had no knowledge [of any drug dealing]. There was no allegation that she was in any way involved in the underlying drug activity that her son allegedly was involved with." "There had not been a ruling that really articulated what the standard is for property owners who have not been accused of criminal activity," said Anthony, an attorney at Ballard Spahr.

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