Where persons are charged with serious offences, it is common for the DPP to obtain orders restraining cash, vehicles, and real estate, with the intention of having that property forfeited to the Government under the Criminal Assets Confiscation Act.
Property can be ordered forfeit during sentencing but most commonly, a Court order restraining the property is obtained followed by automatic forfeiture under the Act’s provisions, six months after conviction.
The Act is heavily weighted against defendants, the criteria required for a restraining order are minimal and there is virtually no avenue to resist an application in the first instance. A Court need only accept that the facts provide reasonable grounds to suspect the property is proceeds of or an instrument of a serious offence.
Applications to restrain property are initiated by summons in the District Court, separately from the criminal proceedings.
When a summons is issued, the clock is running. Regardless of whether the application is made before or after conviction, automatic forfeiture of property will occur 6 months after conviction unless application is made to exclude property, in whole or in part, from the restraining order.
Clients who receive a summons pursuant to Criminal Assets Confiscation Act should immediately seek the advice of the expert criminal lawyers such as those at Williams.