The government has introduced amendments to legislation to assist in the seizure of criminal property in Saskatchewan.
The Seizure of Criminal Property Amendment Act, 2013 (No.2) will establish an administrative seizure process that will operate in addition to the existing court process.
“Our government is committed to ensuring that offenders do not profit from their crimes,” Justice Minister and Attorney General Gordon Wyant said. “We are confident these amendments will provide additional tools to continue the good work underway in our province.”
The present system requires extensive preparation of legal documents to bring forfeiture applications before the courts. The legislative changes would not require the preparation of court documents until it is known if the respondent is opposing the application. To ensure their rights are protected, the respondent will receive a notice of the intention to seize the property and if they oppose seizure, the matter is required to go to a full court hearing before a seizure may occur.
The new process will be limited to the seizure of money or personal property under a specific dollar amount. It could not be used for larger valued property or for real estate seizures. If the limit is set at $75,000, as in Alberta and British Columbia, an estimated 80 per cent of seizures in Saskatchewan would fall under this proposed dollar amount. The amount in Saskatchewan will be determined in the regulations.
Under the Act, the seized funds are retained in the criminal property forfeiture fund to support police operations in the province and the Victims’ Fund, which provides programming to victims of crime.