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Criminal Property Forfeiture

What is criminal property forfeiture?
It refers to a process through which the government can take ownership of property that was either obtained as a result of unlawful activity or used to commit unlawful activity.  Government must follow certain steps to ensure that this is done fairly.

Property that was obtained as a result of unlawful activity is called a proceed of unlawful activity. Property that was used to commit an unlawful activity is called an instrument of unlawful activity.

Background
Since 2009, Manitoba’s Criminal Property Forfeiture Unit has operated under the authority of The Criminal Property Forfeiture Act. The Criminal Property Forfeiture Act allows the director of the unit to start civil forfeiture proceedings against property believed to be a proceed or instrument of unlawful activity. These proceedings are heard by a judge of the of the Court of Queen’s Bench who decides whether or not to order the forfeiture.

Civil proceedings under The Criminal Property Forfeiture Act are entirely separate from criminal law.   They:

  • do not rely on criminal prosecutions
  • are initiated  against property, not people
  • do not create criminal records
  • do not create findings of guilt or innocence

It is completely separate from the criminal law proceeds of crime provisions under the Criminal Code of Canada. In 2012, amendments were made to The Criminal Property Forfeiture Act. They allow the director to follow a simpler process, known as administrative forfeiture, against personal property valued at $75,000 or less (see Part 3). This simpler process is not available against real property. These proceedings do not take place in court – they are carried out through an administrative process.

The money recovered from successful forfeitures is deposited into the Criminal Property Forfeiture Fund and distributed as provided for in section 19 of The Criminal Property Forfeiture Act. It is used, for example, to compensate victims and promote safer communities.

This site has information on property subject to administrative forfeiture and property that has been forfeited to the government. See the left-hand navigation or links below for more information:

Administrative Forfeiture of Property
      Property Currently Subject to Administrative Forfeiture
      Process for Disputing an Administrative Forfeiture Proceeding
Disposal of Forfeited Property

To contact the Criminal Property Forfeiture Unit, see the Contact Us page.

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