New powers for all – the Serious Crime Act 2015
So far 2015 has seen a number of changes to the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) including provision for a new offence of ‘assisting an organised crime group’.
Restraint orders are now available pre or post-charge where there are ‘reasonable grounds to suspect’ that an alleged offender has benefitted from his or her criminal conduct.
It will also be easier for the court to confiscate funds held in a bank or building society account following conviction, under a confiscation order.
There is also a new offence of participating in the activities of an organised crime group. This is defined broadly and covers three or more people who act for the purposes carrying out criminal activities.
The offence is designed to criminalise the activities of those who assist or help organised crime, for example by making payments or funds available. An individual does not need to know any members of the organised crime group in order to be guilty of an offence and the gain or benefit does not need to be financial in nature.
Authorities such as the CPS, the SFO and the FCA can prosecute those that commit this offence. A person guilty of this offence can also be imprisoned for up to five years.
These changes to the POCA alongside ongoing legal aid cuts highlight an increasing concern within the legal profession that the principle of equality before the law is being undermined. In response to these concerns London fraud defence solicitors Ralli have developed a new fixed fee service in London.
Being the target of any prosecuting authority is incredibly distressing, couple this with concerns regarding the funding of legal expenses means the individual concerned can find themselves in a precarious position. For further information regarding Rallis fraud defence solicitors in London go to their website at www.ralli.co.uk.