Squamish RCMP confiscated items referred for administrative forfeiture, making them the property of the B.C. government.
A 2002 Honda Civic, $180 and a Samsung cell phone — these are just a few of the items confiscated by Squamish RCMP and handed over to the provincial government as they were considered products of crime.
These items were revealed in a Squamish Chief freedom-of-information request for items referred for administrative civil forfeiture by Squamish RCMP from January 2015 to March 2020.
According to RCMP, these items would be confiscated and turned over if, during an investigation, the items were alleged to be used in the commission of an offence or items believed to be proceeds of crime — therefore obtained from criminal activities, such as cars used in drug trafficking.
Administrative civil forfeiture, which the provincial government put into place in 2011, is a streamlined version of civil forfeiture that applies to items of less than $75,000 in value.
Unlike with civil forfeiture, administrative forfeiture does not usually require the courts’ approval in most cases, and criminal convictions or charges are not needed.
“It is an unusual process because it kind of flips the criminal justice system on its head,” said Squamish lawyer George J. Hall. “There doesn’t have to be a conviction and a charge laid for administrative forfeiture to occur.”
RCMP officers do have to submit a rationale behind the forfeiture and there have to be grounds to believe the item is used for criminal activity or was gained via crime, local RCMP tell The Chief.
“With administrative forfeiture, the property that the government is looking to seize has to be connected to an unlawful activity. And, unlawful activity is defined broader than just the Canadian Criminal Code,” explained Hall. “So, once that link has been established, the BC Civil Forfeiture Act provides notice to the individual who has an interest in the property — i.e. the owner — that notice can be provided two ways: one is registered mail to the owner’s last registered address and the other is by running an ad in the newspaper.”
There’s then a 60-day dispute period.
“Generally, court is not involved because a lot of people don’t dispute the forfeiture,” Hall said, adding this could be because it is not worth paying to go to court to dispute it.
“If someone has a car worth $1,000 seized and you want to dispute that, you are going to rack up legal bills pretty quickly,” he said.
If the forfeiture is not disputed, the item becomes the property of the government.
Items that can be, are sold through the Ministry of Citizen Services’ B.C. Auction website.
Funds raised go back to pay for the program and for crime prevention grants and compensation to eligible victims.
Property that cannot be sold is disposed of or sent for salvage.
The other items referred for administrative forfeiture by Squamish RCMP from 2015 to March 2020 include:
*$1,500, 2000 Dodge Caravan, undisclosed property and electronics
*Bicycle parts and components
*Gold lighter, a gold Swiss watch, gold Invictus watch, silver Bulova watch
*$336, Samsung cellphone, ZTE cellphone
*iPhone, Huawei cellphone, Blu cellphone
*Jacket, three cellphones
* $379.50 cash, US$116, Alcatel cellphone
Read the original article here: https://www.squamishchief.com/news/local-news/items-related-to-crime-turned-over-to-the-province-1.24122407
APRIL 22, 2020
Photo: Squamish Chief