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Proceeds of Crime Act 2002

Defendant absconds

Section 177-180: Absconded defendant convicted or committed; Defendant neither convicted nor acquitted; Variation and discharge of orders

243.Sections 177 to 180 are sections dealing with confiscation orders against absconders. Under the current legislation in Northern Ireland, the High Court may make a confiscation order against an absconder convicted of one or more offences to which the Proceeds of Crime (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 applies. Article 2(4) of the Order defines the Offences to which the Order applies. These include all indictable offences, i.e. any offence capable of being tried in the Crown Court. Certain terrorist offences are excluded and certain summary offences are included. The Act transfers jurisdiction to the Crown Court to make a confiscation order against an absconder convicted of, or charged with, any crime.

244.Section 177 deals with the situation where a defendant is convicted either in the Crown Court or in the magistrates’ court, and then absconds. In the case of a conviction in the magistrates’ court, the defendant must have been committed to the Crown Court for confiscation before absconding. Either the prosecutor or the Director may apply to the Crown Court for a confiscation order to be made under this section.

245.The sections as currently drafted will apply in Northern Ireland in the same way as in England and Wales. These sections provide that none of the reconsideration sections, namely sections 169-171, apply where a person is still an absconder pre- or post-conviction and that they do all apply where an absconder returns. Sections 179 and 180 reproduce existing ancillary provision for unconvicted absconders, except that the functions are transferred from the High Court to the Crown Court.

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