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P. Simmons
P. Simmons, Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  16 yrs. of trial experience
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If a homeowner allows an occupant to live rent-free in that

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If a homeowner allows an occupant to live rent-free in that home, can the owner be held liable if drugs are used illgally by the occupant (NOTE: The owner lives in another home.) Thank you
Thanks for the chance to help. I am an attorney with over 12 years experience. Hopefully I can help you with your legal question.

Depends on the context. Can you provide a bit more context? What is going on...what has happened?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

nothing has happened but am asking what my liability would be IF drug use does occur and is brought to the attention of law enforcement

Drug use? There is likely no liability to the the homeowner.

Now...more than use? If they are selling or manufacturing drugs in the home?? Then you have a different story.

Under federal and state asset forfeiture statutes, if you let someone use your home, and they are selling or making drugs from the home, then the state can take steps to attempt to sieze and sell the home.

You can defend this...or try to. To take your home, the police would need to prove that you new that this was going on and permitted it. So if there was an arrest for distribution or manufacturer of drugs, and they attempt to take the home, you can show you had no idea that that this was going on you may be able to save the home. THe problem you face is that asset forfeiture proceedings under state and federal law are not like a criminal trial. The bunden of proof is preponderance (more likely than not). SO it is easier for the state to prove easier for them to seize and sell the property.

BotXXXXX XXXXXne: Use? Not an issue for asset forfeiture laws. But distribution/manufacture? That is certainly a potential problem

The other potential problem would be tort liability. If someone is injured at the property because of drug use? Then as the homeowner you are potentially liable for the injury. THe standard is similar...they person who was injured would have to prove that you knew and approved of the illegal drug use and that because of the drug use they were injured. But if they can prove that, it is possible you could be held liable for injuries resulting from drug use

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I suspect strongly that drug USE will occur...and the occupant eacknowledged that he sold marijuana in another state within the last year. Would I still be liable if I discovered that pot is being used but was not aware that it was beind sold, if in fact it was. thank you.

If they are selling marijuana out of your home, and you know they are using it illegally? Then you risk loosing your home under the asset forfeiture laws.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

just to be clear: if i know he is using pot but dont that KNOW he is selling it, are you saying that if the law becomes aware that he is selling it before I become aware, then my assets could be taken away because of my prior knowledge that he was USING pot?

No Ma'am...they still need to prove you were aware of the selling. So you can still defend and make them prove that you knew he was selling.

But if they prove you knew he was using, that helps create the inference that you knew he was selling.

Again, they have the burden to prove the case...but in practice they take your property and then you get a hearing to present your case. It is an administrative the formal rules of evidence do not apply. If they can make a case you knew or reasonably should have known he was selling, you run a very real risk of loosing the property.

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