Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) proceedings may follow a conviction where the Prosecution have proved a defendant sufficiently gained financially from their criminal activity or where a defendant has been convicted of a ‘lifestyle offence’. The aim of POCA proceedings is to confiscate from the defendant money which is purported to have been obtained illegally.
Offences deemed to provide a criminal lifestyle are set out in Schedule 2 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and include drugs trafficking, human trafficking, money laundering, intellectual property violations and blackmail. Once convicted one of these offences there is a (rebuttable) presumption that the defendant benefited financially from their involvement.
Figures for the amount benefitted by the Defendant from their criminal conduct and the available amount the Defendant must repay of the benefit will either be agreed between the Prosecution and the Defence or will be decided by the Court at a confiscation hearing.
The Prosecution will sometimes assert that a Defendant has hidden assets in order to inflate the available amount. The burden of proof is on the Defence to show that on the balance of probabilities that the Defendant does not have those hidden assets. The task of proving a negative is not simple and providing clear evidence is a paramount priority in these cases.
The penalty for breaching a confiscation order is a custodial sentence and as such it is important to be represented by capable and tenacious lawyers.
The experienced team of lawyers at Richardson Lissack will challenge the Prosecution’s assertions and work ardently to ensure you are not unfairly punished financially in addition to a criminal conviction. We work with specialist Forensic Accountants and financial investigators where appropriate to support your position with the best evidence possible. We have experience reducing multi-million pound POCA matters and dealing with those which are complicated by hidden assets and third party interests.