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WHAT TO DO WHEN SECTION 22 POCA 2002 COMES FOR YOU?
The title of this blog may sound like a low rent slasher movie, but the power of Section 22 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 is just like a bad sequel to your original case.
At end of a criminal case there are sometimes proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act and a Confiscation Order made.
Section 22 gives the prosecution the power to ask the court to re-consider the available amount where a confiscation order has previously been made and the available amount was less than the benefit figure. In simple terms, if the prosecution think you now have more available assets than you did at the time of your case, then they want you to pay the amount that those assets are worth.
This is an attractive source of revenue for the prosecuting authorities in a period where budgets are being trimmed.
Unlike some other areas of law, there is no time limit within which the prosecution have to make an application under this section.
The first indication you may have that an application has been made is when you receive a Restraint Order which has been applied for ex-parte (without your knowledge or presence) at court. Suddenly, the shiny new car that you have been driving around in may have become a restrained asset.
The next stage is usually that you are invited to simply agree the terms of a Consent Order, where you are asked to agree an increase in the available amount and therefore the amount payable.
Although the law under the Proceeds of Crime Act is deliberately heavily weighted against defendants, it remains possible to resist these applications, for example where it can be shown that it would be unjust for the court to increase the amount payable.
It is important that if you receive contact from the authorities about an application to re-visit your confiscation order, you seek legal advice and representation. It is often possible through early engagement to avoid the need for court proceedings.
If you are contacted by the Crown Prosecution Service in relation to a section 22 application and require our assistance, please contact us on 02077904032 and request our Fraud Department, headed by Kirsty Bishop.