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Proceeds of Crime Act 2002

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.

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