It can be very worrying and highly inconvenient when items or amounts of cash are seized as part of an investigation by the police or the National Crime Agency. If you have experienced this, it’s vital to get in touch with trusted cash forfeiture solicitors as soon as possible.
How Can DPP Business & Tax Help?
DPP Business & tax can help you to appeal a decision to seize any monies or property that belong to you. Whether they have been confiscated at customs, as the result of a police raid or from a bank account, storage unit or safety deposit box, our friendly and knowledgeable team of asset forfeiture solicitors will help you to prove that the amounts or items in question were legally obtained and are not the proceeds of crime. Our firm has experience of reclaiming seized cash and property stretching back over 20 years.
Conditions of Asset Forfeiture and Cash Seizures
Police may seize cash or assets under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 or Criminal Finances Act 2017. They cannot confiscate money on the spot unless it amounts to more than £1,000. There is an exception to this rule if the physical money itself could be considered proof of a crime (for example, if the serial numbers displayed match those on missing notes, or if the cash is contaminated with drugs.)
You do not need to be convicted of any crime for civil recovery proceedings to be brought against you and elements of your finances or property to be seized, but if it appears that the goods or cash in your possession have been gained through criminal activity, you may be taken to court for holding them.
The police cannot confiscate items or money unless they believe that they have been obtained as the result of a particular crime or offence. They can only be seized if there is reason to believe that they will be hidden or destroyed, or used in another crime, if left where they are.
If there is strong reason to believe that the items in question are relevant to an investigation, the police can hold them until they are no longer needed. The maximum length of time they can be held for is 6 months, though the police can apply for an extension for up to 2 years if necessary. From this point, you will be given a set amount of time – usually up to 28 days – to reclaim them. If you do not, they may be disposed of or sold at auction.
Certain items may not be returned if you are not legally permitted to own them (for example, if a licence is required that you do not hold), or if it is believed that they would be dangerous either to yourself or others if they were returned to your possession (for example, a knife or drugs).
If the police undertake a raid on your property and find £80,000 in cash that they suspect has been generated through drug trafficking, they can seize the money and undertake an investigation to discover whether this is the case. They can retain the amount until the investigation is over, and, if it is found that it was indeed a proceed of crime, it will not be returned to you and you may be taken to court for the crime. However, if your legal representatives can prove that the money was not made through illegal activity, it should be returned to you in full.
Information Related to Asset Forfeiture & Cash Seizure
Offences that may lead to asset forfeiture or cash seizure include money laundering, fraud, embezzlement, theft, burglary, the sale of drugs or any other offences related to the illegal obtaining of money or items. Being an accessory to any of the above can also see your finances or property confiscated.
As well as or instead of asset forfeiture orders, asset freezing orders may be put in place under certain circumstances to prevent you using money from particular accounts until the investigation is over.
Frequently Asked Questions
What happens to my property after it is seized?
Your items will usually be held at the police station where the officers that confiscated them are based. They will be held there until they are no longer required – though if they are still required after six months, the police can apply for an extension of up to two years if needed. Otherwise you will be notified to come and collect them.
Do the police have to prove I committed a crime prior to seizing my assets?
No. The police may confiscate your belongings or money as long as they have valid reason to believe that they are linked to a crime. Amounts that are considered to be the proceeds of fraud, money laundering or other financial crimes may be permanently confiscated through a civil court order without any requirement for a criminal conviction.
How can I prove that my money was not gained through crime?
Your first step should be to make contact with specialist cash seizure solicitors who can help you to gather evidence of the means by which you came into the money’s possession. You should then appeal to the Crown Court within 30 days of the forfeiture order in question. If your legal representatives can successfully prove your innocence, the money should be returned to you.
If you need the help of experienced asset forfeiture solicitors as a result of your money or assets being seized by the police or NCA, contact DPP Business & Tax today.
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