Forfeiture & Cash Seizure Proceedings
The police or customs officers are able to seize cash if they have reasonable grounds for suspecting that the cash is recoverable property or intended for use in unlawful conduct, provided the amount of cash is over £1,000.00.
Once cash is seized, the authorities must make an application to a Magistrates court within 48 hours (excluding weekends, Christmas Day, Good Friday and official bank holidays) for an order for its continued seizure. A magistrate may only make such an order where it is satisfied:
That there are reasonable grounds to support the officer's suspicion;
That the continued detention is justified for the purposes of investigating its origin or intended use.
The magistrate may also make an order for the continued detention if the authorities are considering bringing criminal proceedings or such proceedings have been commenced and not concluded.
At this hearing, the Magistrates can hear from the defence and may release the cash in where it can be shown that it is not recoverable property and is not intended for use in unlawful conduct. In addition, where the authorities can be convinced that the detention can no longer be justified, may release the cash or any part of it after notifying the magistrates' court.
It is important to remember that cash forfeiture proceedings are civil proceedings and the civil standard of proof will apply. We will be able to advise you of the issues surrounding your case and advise and represent you in avoiding seizure.
Where cash proceedings are linked to a criminal prosecution and the cash forfeiture is to be contested, then the Crown are likely to make an application for forfeiture and the hearing of that application should be adjourned to await the outcome of the criminal proceedings (R v Payton  EWCA Crim 1226).
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