The Magistrate's Blog (2005-2012)

This blog has migrated to www.magistratesblog.blogspot.co.uk This blog is anonymous, and Bystander's views are his and his alone. Where his views differ from the letter of the law, he will enforce the letter of the law because that is what he has sworn to do. If you think that you can identify a particular case from one of the posts you are wrong. Enough facts are changed to preserve the truth of the tale but to disguise its exact source.

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Location: Near London, United Kingdom

The blog is written by a retired JP, with over 30 years' experience on the Bench.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Red Hot POCA

Magistrates, at least on my patch, are seeing more and more applications under the Proceeds of Crime Act. Before this Act was passed, there were occasional applications to detain money that was alleged to be the proceeds of drug dealing, but nowadays anyone in posession of a large chunk of cash (and today that is as little as £1000) without a solid explanation of its provenenance, may have it seized by the police, who can then ask magistrates to detain it (usually for three months)as the proceeds of crime or as being intended for use in crime. After a period, that may be around a year or so, we will hear an application to forfeit the cash to the Crown. Many of these applications are not opposed (since they are civil in nature, Legal Aid is not available) but a few, usually involving hefty sums, may be defended. Over the years I have seen applications to detain sums from a thousand or two up to several million pounds, and a remarkable number of people have walked away from their money.
We work to the civil standard of proof (the balance of probabilities) rather than the stricter criminal standard, so we take account of all the circumstances of the seizure. If someone is busted for drug dealing and has £25000 in cash in his loft then certain conclusions seem to be in order.
It's all interesting stuff, and I remember pointing out a long time ago that the Feds never got Al Capone for racketeering, but for tax evasion. Nowadays the money laundering rules make it harder than ever for criminals to benefit from their scams - not impossible, just harder.

I have just seen this. Interesting.