The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 empowers a police constable to seize cash in excess of £1000 if he or she suspects that it may be the proceeds of criminal conduct or intended for use in such conduct. Criminal conduct includes everything from the proceeds of drug trafficking to legitimately earned income which has not been declared for tax. 'Cash' is defined as including travellers' cheques and cheques.
Within 48 hours of seizing cash the police must apply to a Magistrates' Court to detain the cash for up to 90 days so they can investigate its source. This process can be repeated for up to two years. At any time the police can apply to keep the cash permanently ('forfeiture').
Although proceedings take place in a Magistrates' Court they are conducted under civil, not criminal, rules. Accordingly the police need only satisfy a court on the balance of probabilities, that the cash is criminal property.
Proving the source of cash, which effectively is what one is required to do, can be difficult and often requires detailed consideration of financial documents.
Legal aid is rarely available in proceedings under this draconian legislation but expert legal advice is absolutely critical. Sonn Macmillan Walker has a proven track record in cash seizure cases and our lawyers have in the last year acted successfully for, among others, numerous clients from whom cash was seized under Operation Rize. Partner David Sonn was quoted extensively in a recent newspaper article on this much criticised Metropolitan Police operation.
Contact David Sonn for a prompt response to your enquiry.