Feb. 18, 2010
FREDERICTON (CNB) - A new act introduced in the legislative assembly today will give the attorney general the power to apply to seize property acquired or used in unlawful activity even if no person has been charged with a crime.
The Civil Forfeiture Act will apply to land and personal property, including cash, and can be applied to unlawful activity up to 10 years prior to it coming into force. The unlawful activity can relate to the Criminal Code, federal drug legislation or provincial law.
The act will provide certain protections to innocent persons with interests in the property being forfeited, including lenders, mortgage holders and other interest holders.
Attorney General Kelly Lamrock said this legislation will give the legal system an additional tool to combat illegal activities in New Brunswick.
"There has been a growing concern that in some cases, there can be a piece of property that is clearly being used for illegal activity but the letter of the law makes it difficult to charge individuals," Lamrock said. "The classic example is a drug house in a neighbourhood where there can be many occupants, many of whom may not have been charged, but the home is a safe haven for drug activity nonetheless. This new act will make it easier for the attorney general to seize the house itself, even after the drug operation has been shut down, sell the property and use the proceeds to fight crime."
All proceedings under the act will be brought before the New Brunswick Court of Queen's Bench.
The act complements the Management of Seized and Forfeited Property Act that came into force last year. It gives similar powers to the attorney general in the case of criminal convictions.
"It's important to note that the proceeds from both these acts will be used strictly for crime prevention or law enforcement, victim restitution and the administration of criminal justice," said Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General John W. Foran. "This will help to put the proceeds where they are most needed and make New Brunswick a safer place."
MEDIA CONTACT: Marc Belliveau, communications, Office of the Attorney General, 506-453-4138.