The Government has found it increasingly attractive to take the high moral ground over the forfeiture of alleged criminal property, because the effect is for them to keep it as a windfall.
Unlike criminal cases, the burden of proof is not beyond reasonable doubt, but just on a balance of probabilities.
The Criminal Finances Act 2017 has amended the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) to allow authorised law enforcement agencies such as police or customs to seize, detain and forfeit “listed assets”, if they are recoverable property or intended for use in unlawful conduct.
Listed assets can include precious metals, precious stones, watches, artistic works, face-value vouchers and postage stamps.
An officer can search for listed assets on any premises, if there lawfully, and with reasonable grounds for suspecting seizable listed assets are there. The power extends to people and vehicles and property valued at £1000 or more.
Seized property may be detained for an initial period of six hours, but a senior officer can authorise detention for a further forty-two hours. An officer can then make an application to a Magistrates court to extend the period of detention for up to six months.
After property has been seized and detained an application can be made to the Magistrates for forfeiture of all or any part of it, if they are satisfied that it is a listed asset, and that it is recoverable property or intended for use in unlawful conduct
Saunders Law’s elite crime team has considerable experience of securing the return of property belonging to clients.
For legal advice please contact Saunders Law and speak to a member of our team.