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Proceeds of Crime Act 2002

Interpretation

Section 142: Criminal lifestyle

217.Section 142 is to be read in conjunction with section 94. As explained in the note on section 92, the question of whether a person has a criminal lifestyle is crucial to the operation of the Act, because it determines whether the accused is subject to the confiscation of benefit from his particular criminal conduct or his general criminal conduct. Section 142 sets out in detail the criteria which govern whether or not a person has a criminal lifestyle.

218.The criminal lifestyle regime is based on the principle that an offender who gives reasonable grounds to believe that he is living off crime should be required to account for his assets, and should have them confiscated to the extent that he is unable to account for their lawful origin. The criminal lifestyle tests, therefore, are designed to identify offenders who may be regarded as normally living off crime. Under section 142, a person has a criminal lifestyle if he satisfies one or more of the tests set out in that section.

219.The first test is that he is convicted of an offence specified in Schedule 4 (see the commentary on Schedule 4 below). Subsection (7) enables the Scottish Ministers to amend Schedule 4 by order. The second test is that the accused is convicted of an offence of any description, provided it was committed over a period of at least six months and he obtained not less than £5,000 from that offence. The third test is that the accused is convicted of a combination of offences amounting to “a course of criminal activity”.

220.The third test is more complicated than the other two. The accused satisfies it if he has (a) been convicted in the current proceedings of four or more offences of any description from which he has benefited, or (b) he has been convicted in the current proceedings of any one such offence and has other convictions for any such offences on at least two separate occasions in the last six years. In addition, the total benefit from the offences, (or, in the case of (b), occasions) must be not less than £5,000.

221.The first test is based on the earlier drug confiscation legislation, where conviction of a drug trafficking offence is always regarded as indicative of a criminal lifestyle (although the term itself is not used in the earlier legislation). The second test is new. The third test is similar to that in the earlier non-drug legislation, where an enquiry may be launched into benefit from a person’s entire past criminal conduct (other than drug trafficking) where the person is convicted in the current proceedings of two or more offences from which he has benefited, or of one offence in the current proceedings and another one in the last six years. However, the number of triggering offences is greater in the Act because, under section 96, the application of the assumptions is mandatory where a criminal lifestyle is identified, whereas it is discretionary in the earlier non-drug legislation.

Section 143: Conduct and benefit

222.Section 143 defines criminal conduct as any conduct constituting an offence in Scotland or, which (if it took place elsewhere in the United Kingdom or abroad) would constitute an offence if it had occurred in Scotland. The restriction of the scope of confiscation under earlier confiscation legislation to the proceeds of drug trafficking, other indictable offences and certain summary offences is thus abolished. Under the Act, the court that makes a confiscation order will only need to consider whether the accused has benefited from any conduct which is or would be contrary to the criminal law of Scotland. Section 143 also defines “general criminal conduct” and “particular criminal conduct” (for which, see the note on section 92).

223.Section 143 also provides that a person benefits from criminal conduct if he obtains property as a result of or in connection with the conduct. This unites in one new provision two similar but not identical definitions in the legislation relating to drug trafficking and that relating to other offences.

Section 147: Tainted gifts and their recipients

224.Like the Act, the earlier legislation enables gifts made by the accused to other persons to be recovered in satisfaction of the confiscation order, and makes ancillary provision (for example, to enable assets of the recipient of a gift to be placed under restraint). Under the existing legislation, a tainted gift is described as a “gift caught by the Act”. Section 144 reappraises and aligns the two different tainted gift schemes currently found in the drug and non-drug legislation. The new scheme provides that, where the court has decided that the accused has a criminal lifestyle, any gift made by the accused to any person in the period beginning six years before the institution of proceedings is caught, together with any gift at any time out of the proceeds of crime. This definition would apply both at the confiscation hearing and for the purposes of enforcement. However, if the court decides that the accused does not have a criminal lifestyle, only gifts made after the commission of the offence are caught. Again, this would apply at the confiscation hearing and for the purposes of enforcement.

Sections 145-147: Value: the basic rule; value of property obtained from conduct; value of tainted gifts

225.Sections 145-147 set out how the court is to work out the value of property held by a person, the value of property, and the value of a tainted gift. These sections all reproduce, with some redrafting, the property valuation principles set out in the earlier legislation.

Sections 151-153: Free property; realisable property; property: general provisions

226.These definitional sections, amongst other things, introduce the new concept of free property as any realisable property which is not subject to certain kinds of forfeiture and deprivation orders. The underlying principle is that property already subject to one of these orders made in earlier proceedings should not be added to the amount available for confiscation because it is already accounted for. In addition, property is not free if it is subject to certain orders under Part 5 of the Act on civil recovery. Section 148 contains a very wide definition of property.

Sections 151-153: Proceedings; applications; Satisfaction of confiscation orders

227.Sections 151-153 define when proceedings are instituted, when proceedings and applications are concluded, and when confiscation orders are satisfied. The definitions are particularly important in that they determine the earliest and latest points at which a restraint may be made.

Section 154: Other interpretative provisions

228.The definition of a criminal investigation in subsection (1) is required because the power to make a restraint order is brought forward, by section 119(2), to the beginning of an investigation.

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