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POCA & Asset Forteiture
The Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) is often described as a 'draconian' piece of legislation which provides the UK Criminal Justice System with an extremely robust process for asset recovery.
POCA allows Prosecuting Agencies to apply to the Courts to restrain the assets of suspects at the early stages of an investigation - when they are not even charged with any criminal offence, let alone convicted.
POCA enables the Courts to order the confiscation of assets belonging to those persons convicted of specified types of offences.
The calculation of the actual financial amount (known as the 'benefit figure') is complex and can involve not only the supposed 'benefit' of the particular criminal conduct but also statutory assumptions about a 'criminal lifestyle'.
If a Defendant does not properly contest the various issues in the correct way at this stage then a far higher Confiscation Order may be made, and it is very difficult (though not impossible) to appeal against an Order once made.
It is therefore essential a Defendant facing Confiscation Proceedings receives quality advice at an early stage.
Failure to pay a Confiscation Order will ultimately lead to a default sentence - the severity of which depends upon the amount owed.
POCA also allows the Courts to order forfeiture of cash seized from persons who have not actually been convicted of any offence relating to that cash, if it established the cash was derived from crime or intended for use in crime.
POCA & Asset Recovery is a specialist area, which requires as much skill and expertise (if not more) as the substantive Court proceedings.
If you have issues with POCA either pre-conviction or post-conviction - you need immediate specialist advice - failure to act now is likely to prove a costly mistake.