Recovering Seized Assets: Legal Recourse After Police Confiscation

September 8, 2023


When you are charged with a criminal offence, you may face jail time or fines and the possibility of losing your property or money to the police. This is known as police confiscation or seizure and forfeiture of assets. It is a legal process that allows the government to take away any items related to the crime, such as cash, cars, drugs, or weapons.

However, this does not mean you must give up your property rights without a fight. You have the option to challenge the confiscation and seek legal recourse. In this blog post, we will explain how police confiscation works and how a criminal defence lawyer can help you recover your seized assets or reduce the amount of forfeiture.

Understanding Asset Confiscation Laws

Section 489.1 of the Criminal Code lays the foundation for the police’s authority to seize assets during an investigation. When the police seize assets during an investigation, a crucial legal dance begins. After obtaining items via a search warrant, the police must promptly secure a justice order to lawfully retain the seized possessions for a limited timeframe. This step is essential to avoid illegal possession accusations. To prolong the retention, the police must convince a justice that the items are vital for their investigation or a legal proceeding, with a simple explanation often sufficing.

A justice’s satisfaction leads to a 90-day order for asset retention. During this period, suspects remain uninformed and cannot counter the police’s justifications. So, what happens after this initial phase? Well, the answer varies. If the assets aren’t necessary for the investigation or legal process, they might be returned, provided the owner is entitled to them. However, requesting an order for a return within the first 90 days is challenging.

Navigating Legal Procedures For Seized Property Recovery

The journey to reclaim seized property necessitates a nuanced understanding of both criminal and civil legal domains. While the police can justify holding assets like money or vehicles, even if unrelated to their investigation, these items could face civil forfeiture. In such cases, the government seeks civil court orders, alleging the assets’ involvement in criminal activities. The initial 90-day retention order, granted by a justice, also considers civil forfeiture requirements. Following this, the police must apply for extensions, usually uncontested but potentially contested by suspects in court.

Also Read: Restrictions On Personal Freedoms Following A Sexual Assault Conviction

During these proceedings, the timing and nature of police investigations matter. Delays in pursuing civil forfeiture might lead to asset return if they were the primary reason for confiscation. Yet, if not, extensions are granted. If criminal charges arise, the dynamics shift. The police no longer require judicial orders for asset retention. Seized property can be held until the conclusion of the criminal proceedings. Similarly, civil forfeiture items remain retained until trial outcomes.

Strategies Deployed By Criminal Defence Lawyers

In the quest to reclaim seized assets, criminal defence lawyers play a pivotal role, employing strategic maneuvers within the complex legal ecosystem. Armed with an in-depth knowledge of the criminal law practice areas, these legal professionals craft compelling arguments to challenge asset confiscations. They scrutinize police justifications, seeking procedural errors and inconsistencies, which could provide grounds for asset return. Should civil forfeiture proceedings loom, defence lawyers will tactfully advocate for their clients, navigating the intricacies of these parallel legal processes.

Furthermore, criminal defence lawyers can exploit the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protections. When police procedural missteps occur, astute lawyers pounce, leveraging constitutional safeguards to secure client remedies. The core of their strategy rests on preserving justice, balancing police powers with individual liberties, and ensuring that the pursuit of assets doesn’t trample upon fundamental rights.

Preventing Unjust Seizures: Safeguarding Your Assets

While navigating the complicated corridors of asset reclamation, individuals can take proactive steps to safeguard their property from unjust seizures. A crucial element is the timely engagement of legal counsel. Understanding the nuances of search warrants, retention orders, and civil forfeiture proceedings can empower individuals to anticipate potential conflicts and protect their assets.

In addition, knowledge is a potent weapon. Awareness of the legal procedures surrounding asset confiscations equips individuals to question unjustified seizures and seek legal recourse promptly. This proactive stance, combined with a deepened understanding of the interplay between criminal investigations and property rights, enables individuals to navigate the complexities of asset reclamation with greater confidence.

About Daryl Royer

Based in Edmonton, Canada, Daryl Royer is a seasoned criminal defence lawyer with extensive experience spanning multiple provinces. Revered for his exceptional track record in handling cases adeptly, Mr. Royer brings a wealth of knowledge and courtroom expertise to secure robust defences for his clients. His remarkable skills and unwavering dedication have earned him the privilege of appearing before the Supreme Court on five occasions. Learn more about Daryl Royer and his criminal defence services.

Need an experienced and trustworthy criminal defence lawyer? Contact Daryl now.

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