Proceeds of crime - frozen assets
What does it mean to have property and assets frozen or confiscated?
The Criminal Property Confiscation Act 2000 (WA) (the CPCA) gives the police and the Director of Public Prosecutions power to seek orders freezing or confiscating certain property.
If the CPCA applies, property may be frozen or confiscated:
- even if the offence was committed outside WA, and
- even if no-one has been charged or convicted of the offence.
If the police or DPP are seeking orders over your property, you need to get legal advice straight away.
When can my assets be frozen or confiscated?
Property can be confiscated, or be subject to a freezing notice or freezing order, if there are reasonable grounds for suspecting the property is:
- related to a crime, or
- owned or controlled by a declared drug trafficker.
Under the CPCA, you can be ordered by the court to prove how you got your assets. If you can’t explain how you got an asset or part of your wealth, it might be confiscated.
Do I have to be warned before my property can be frozen?
No. The police or DPP will normally apply for a freezing notice or freezing order without telling you about the application. If the application is successful, you will be personally served with a copy of the notice or order, along with anyone else they know has an interest in the property (for example, your partner, family members or a bank).
What can I do after I receive a freezing notice or freezing order?
If property has been frozen or confiscated, you must not deal with it in any way, or you could be committing a criminal offence. You should try to get legal advice straight away.
After you have been served with a freezing notice or freezing order, you have 7 days to give the police or DPP a statutory declaration that:
- says whether or not anyone else has an interest in the frozen property, and
- gives the names and address (if known) of every other person who has an interest in the frozen property.
If you do not provide a statutory declaration, you could be charged with a criminal offence.
If you want to object to the frozen property being confiscated, you can file an objection with the court within 28 days after you found out about the freezing notice or order. The court can let you file a late objection in some circumstances.
If you don't object to the freezing notice or freezing order, your property might automatically be confiscated.
In some situations, the Supreme Court may release some property from a freezing order (but not a freezing notice), so you can pay your legal costs. You should get legal advice before you make an application for the release of property.
We may be able to give legal advice about some types of CPCA applications. Call the Infoline or contact your nearest Legal Aid WA office to find out what help we can give in your situation. Grants of aid for representation in court are normally not available for CPCA matters.
Legal Aid WA has produced a self-help guide that explains what to do after getting a freezing notice or freezing order, and how to object to confiscation.
Reviewed: 2 May 2018