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Civil Forfeiture Amendment Act pursued by Province

Timothy Schafer
By Timothy Schafer
May 5th, 2011

Small amounts of cash and property associated with “unlawful activity” could be quickly seized by the provincial government if an amendment to the Civil Forfeiture Act passes.

If passed, Bill 6 – The Civil Forfeiture Amendment Act would make BC the first province to establish “administrative forfeiture.”

This process applies only to cases where the property is worth $75,000 or less and the Province’s claim goes undisputed.

Under the current Civil Forfeiture Act, the Province must go through several steps, incurring legal costs, to secure the forfeiture of any property, even if no parties dispute the Province’s claim.

As a result, the process made it cost-prohibitive to pursue many cases involving low-value property and small amounts of cash commonly seized from drug dealers, gang members and other organized crime groups.

But under the new administrative forfeiture process the Province will continue to notify parties who have a known interest in property involved in a forfeiture action.

However, if no one disputes the Province’s claim within 60 days of notification, the director of civil forfeiture will be able to dispose of the property.

The Province is expected to develop new legislation to provide the Criminal Justice Branch with direction and authority to manage restrained property, as well as dispose of money taken through the criminal law process.


Quick facts

• In 2006, B.C. became the second Canadian province with a civil forfeiture program targeting the tools and proceeds of unlawful activity. Today, seven provinces have such programs.

• Of nearly 250 cases completed to date, the program has yet to lose one. Almost $17 million in proceeds have been forfeited to the Province to date, including $5.3 million in 2010.

• In nearly one-third of the cases, individuals have not contested or even responded to the notice of forfeiture.

• Last year, the Civil Forfeiture Office concluded 74 cases and secured 18 properties, six vehicles and 56 sums of cash.

• Since Jan. 1, 2011, police have referred 60 new files for which the office has initiated proceedings. Today, more than 200 cases are ongoing and the net value of assets currently restrained pending resolution of active forfeiture actions is $22.6 million.


Learn more

• Read about the most valuable Vancouver house forfeited to the Province to date:

• View the current Civil Forfeiture Act:!/TheNelsonDaily


Categories: Crime

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