Restraint of your assets can take place long before any finding of guilt.
A restraint order can be obtained by a prosecuting authority at an early stage of a criminal investigation, often before charges are brought. With the introduction of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 came an increased determination by the government to confiscate assets of those individuals whom authorities suspected to be guilty of criminal activity. A restraint order is issued by courts as a way of freezing or preserving assets that may be later confiscated, under a confiscation order, following a criminal conviction. It is possible, if you are under investigation for a serious fraud, money laundering or VAT and Tax fraud that you will be the subject of a restraint order.
If you become subject to a restraint order, you will be allowed a weekly allowance from your assets. If this allowance is insufficient for you and your family’s basic needs, you will be prevented from accessing your additional assets. Instead, you will need to renegotiate with the court and prosecuting authorities for an allowance increase.
If you have been accused of a serious crime and are concerned about the potential of a restraint order and subsequent confiscation proceedings then you need to contact our fraud and business crime team as soon as possible on 0800 32 888 46. We will give you practical legal advice, help you detail your assets for the court and represent you in any court proceedings.
If you are already the subject of restraint order and need help then contact the team on 0800 32 888 46 or make an online enquiry.
If you are facing confiscation proceedings following a criminal conviction, the earlier you seek legal advice the better the outcome of the proceedings.
Under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 once convicted of a crime, a defendant is required to have confiscation proceedings heard in court with a confiscation order given to prevent the defendant from benefitting from any financial proceeds of their crime.
A court can in some cases make some assumptions on the benefits received as a direct result of the crime. A court can make a ‘criminal lifestyle’ assumption and if it believes an individual has been living such a lifestyle then all of a person’s benefit in a previous 6 year period can be said to be obtained through criminal conduct and liable for confiscation. In such circumstances, the onus is on the individual to establish that their assets were not obtained through criminal activities.
If you are the subject of post-conviction confiscation proceedings or have been threatened with a confiscation order you need to speak to our legal team to contest the level of benefit and realisable assets. Our team is contactable on 0800 32 888 46 or via an online enquiry and can help you prepare for the proceedings.
Seizure and Forfeiture
Certain assets such as cash can be seized by the authorities even if there is no further criminal enquiry. They can then apply to have the cash forfeited. The onus is on the person whose money has been seized to establish its legitimacy.
These proceedings take place before the Magistrates Court, and are often irrespective of any criminal proceedings. We have significant experience of this jurisdiction and are in a position to negotiate successfully with the prosecuting authority and defend any contested hearing robustly.
Cunninghams are regularly asked by clients to take over their case from Solicitors that they have previously instructed. This can happen at any stage of an investigation or prosecution.
There can be many reasons for this. Their existing solicitor may feel that for professional reasons they can no longer continue to represent their client, they may no longer feel that they have the necessary expertise or they may no longer be allowed to represent their client in respect of a particularly serious case because they are not members of the VHCC panel. In some cases, a client’s relationship with their solicitor has simply broken down, or they have lost complete confidence in their solicitor’s ability to represent them properly. Some clients feel that transferring representation will be an awkward, embarrassing or difficult process, and for cases which are publicly funded there are strict criteria which must be present before a case is transferred to another solicitor.
At Cunninghams we are used to dealing with such enquiries and can reassure clients that any transfer of their case will be smooth, free of embarrassment and always in their best interests.