Confiscation Order Proceedings
A Confiscation Order is made under The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, and enables the authorities to confiscate any property of the defendant’s that has been found to be the proceeds of a crime. Confiscation orders are in place to take the profit out of crime, and are often used in serious fraud, theft and drug trafficking cases.
The courts will take careful steps to preserve any assets that they believe may be the proceeds of a crime. This could be through freezing bank accounts, for example.
It is a common misconception that asset freezing can only be placed upon those who have been arrested and charged with the crime. Anyone who is involved in an ongoing criminal investigation, regardless of whether or not they have been legally charged with an offence, can have restraint proceedings instigated against them. This means that their assets can be effectively frozen, and is referred to as a ‘Restraint Order’.
When do the Confiscation Order proceedings begin?
Confiscation Orders can only be given by the Crown Court, and so the proceedings can only begin once the defendant has been convicted and sentenced. A Confiscation Order may be a request of the prosecution, or may have been handed down to the defendant by the court itself.
If the defendant is found not guilty, a Confiscation Order cannot be instigated, and any restraint order that is in place should be rendered void immediately after the trial.
Repayment of assets
A Confiscation Order also enables the court to demand the repayment of any financial gain that the defendant has due to their crime. However, the court understands that it may be impossible for you to repay these assets straight away, that’s why there is usually a six month grace period in which the court will expect you to repay what is owed.
If you don’t repay the assets in full within the allocated time, you will be sent to prison. There are standard default prison sentences that have been set out by the Powers of Criminal Courts Act 2000, which we have detailed in the table below:
What should I do if I’m facing, or have been issued with, a Confiscation Order?
If you’re facing, or have been issued with a Confiscation Order, DPP Business & Tax can help. In these cases, it’s vital to seek professional legal advice as soon as possible, even if a Confiscation Order is just a possibility at this point. Contact us today to discuss your next steps.
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