Confiscation Orders, Restraint Orders and the Proceeds of Crime Act
- Have you had cash seized by the police?
- Have your bank accounts been frozen?
- Are you under investigation for fraud, dishonesty offences, money laundering or drugs?
- Have you been convicted and had your case adjourned for confiscation proceedings?
We have experience of confiscation proceedings ranging from the very small up to millions of pounds, both in the Crown Court and on appeal. We will fight hard on your behalf, so you can in many cases keep hold of more of what is yours.
We can deal with your case even if we did not act for you in the main proceedings. We can also advise on whether you may have grounds to appeal against an order which has already been made. It is essential that you get advice as soon as possible. Mistakes in these cases can prove very expensive, and it is better to ask now than to regret later. We’ll always be pleased to hear from you.
An example of our recent success in the Court of Appeal can be seen in R. v. Kinsella as shown in this news article. Mr Kinsella was believed to be a gangland enforcer who had taken part in a serious organised robbery. We overturned a decision by the Crown Court that he was liable to have the entire value of the proceeds of the robbery confiscated.
Introduction to POCA
The police, Crown Prosecution Service and other prosecuting agencies like RCPO (the Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office, now part of CPS) have extensive powers to seize assets which represent the proceeds of crime. But these powers aren’t only used in multi-million pound drug cases: they can be used in any case where the State can prove there has been a benefit from crime. Even quite small cases can end with confiscation proceedings.
The police and the prosecution get to keep a percentage of money recovered in these cases, so it is worth their while pursuing as many as they can!
This is a complicated area of law where expert assistance can make a real difference. We at Conspiracy Solicitor will always do our very best to guide you through this maze.
Often the process can start even before any criminal charges are brought. In some cases the police and some other officials, for example the UK Borders Agency, can seize cash or items such as cheques or postal orders and either detain them until it can be proven that they are not the proceeds of criminal conduct, or apply to a Magistrates’ Court for the cash to be forfeited.
We can advise on how to attempt to secure the release of your cash or challenge a police application for it to be forfeited. We may be able to represent you in Court. In some cases we may be able to obtain public funding for this purpose.
In larger cases the prosecution may apply for your assets to be restrained. Again, this can be done even before any charges have been brought, there only needs to be an ongoing investigation.
If your assets are restrained you won’t be able to operate your bank accounts, sell or otherwise deal with your assets (houses, cars etc), and you will be limited to a weekly allowance for your outgoings.
We can advise you on whether the prosecution are acting lawfully, negotiate on your behalf, and represent you in any Court proceedings. We have dealt with many cases in which this power has been used, as it is routine in serious criminal cases or those relating to organised crime.
At the end of many Crown Court and some Magistrates’ Court cases, the prosecution may argue that there should be a confiscation hearing. This is often a separate hearing, weeks or months after sentence has been passed.
The Court will have to assess the value of any benefit from crime, in simple terms how much the crime was worth to you. Once the benefit has been valued, it is up to you to satisfy the Court that you don’t have sufficient assets to pay that amount in full. If you can’t, you have to pay the full amount.
There are complicated rules relating to how the benefit is calculated and whether you own your property, or whether someone else has an interest in it, and the value of property. In some cases the prosecution may argue that you had a “criminal lifestyle”. If they do this the Court may assume, amongst other things, that all of your income for the last 6 years came from criminal sources. This can result in a very large benefit figure.
It is very important that you get the right legal advice early on. You may have to serve a default sentence of imprisonment if you do not pay the amount ordered. The default sentence may be months or even years long, yet might be avoided or reduced with proper advice and representation.
Even if you have been represented by other solicitors for the rest of the case, it is still possible to come to Conspiracy Solicitor and Bird and Co for the confiscation proceedings.
Sadly many firms are still unfamiliar with these procedures, but the Team at Conspiracy Solicitor are experienced and will do their utmost to help you out. We know how worrying these unfamiliar proceedings can be, but with our assistance you can understand what is going on, and in many cases we can reduce the amount you will have to pay.
Remember mistakes can be costly! If you make admissions which are incorrect or do not challenge the right aspects of the Prosecution case, you could be landed with a very large bill and potentially a very large default sentence.