July 2017
News Category: Latest News

Understanding "Proceeds of Crime Funds"


WHY CAN’T MY CRIME STOPPERS PROGRAM APPLY FOR PROCEEDS OF CRIME FUNDS?

 

Consider seeking a Charitable Donation

 

 A question we get a lot at the OACS is in regards to proceeds of crime, and specifically if/how a program can apply to have funding from them.

Well, let’s take a look at Proceeds of Crime legislation and procedures in Canada and see how the process works:

First, it’s important to note that although Canada uses a FEDERAL Criminal Statute, i.e. The Criminal Code of Canada,  it’s the provinces responsibility to prosecute crimes under that statute.  In Ontation, it’s the Ministry of the Attorney General ‘s office or MAG that is responsible for prosecuting murders, robberies, shoplifters and the like.  The Federal Government however, is responsible for prosecuting drugs and income tax (although it seems like they change their name every couple of years, they’re currently known as the Public Prosecution Service of Canada).  In real terms, this means at a typical Criminal Court you’ll have two sets of Crown Attorney’s, one set that works for the province and one set that works for the Federal Government.

As mentioned drug offences are prosecuted by the PPSC federally.  This is key to this article, because drugs generate far and away the most seized cash proceeds and are also among many programs top arrests from tips.

So how do we (the hard working Crime Stopper programs of Ontario) get our hands on all of this drug money? 

Let’s take a look at the legislation.   In 1993 Parliament passed the Seized Property Management Act (SPMA).  Along with the legislation a Federal entity known as the Seized Property Management Directorate, or SPMD was created to manage the seizures.  Under the SPMA, the SPMD is tasked with sharing the funds as specified in Section 10.

The section states “Where a law enforcement agency in Canada has participated in the investigation of an offence that leads to…. (Forfeiture, fines, etc.) ….. the Minister shall in accordance with the regulations, share the proceeds of disposition of that forfeited property or any mount paid or recovered on account of the fine, as the case may be.”

So the good news is that the SPMD  is bound by statute to share the profits with participating law enforcement agencies, but….  as you all know, while a key law enforcement partner, Crime Stoppers programs in Canada are NOT law enforcement agencies, but not-for-profit charities.  So…. in short, no proceeds money for us under the SPMA, as we fall outside the statue’s parameters.

This DOESN’T mean there’s no way of getting money from court proceedings though.  Crime Stopper programs are encouraged to educate their local judges and crown attorneys (from both agencies) to the fact that Crime Stoppers IS a not-for-profit charity and that we DON’T receive any funding.  A huge number of first time offenders are diverted (limited or no criminal record) with a donation to a charity as a sentencing option.  I can remember being a young officer in court in the 90s. and M.A.D.D. had an absolute lockdown with the provincial courts in regards to impaired driving fines, and would routinely collect three to five hundred dollars per case.

I can’t think of a better pitch to a judge than a donation to a charity that seeks to protect the public while providing an opportunity to report crime anonymously.  While often going up against other charities that perhaps pull more urgently at the heart strings, in this specific instance we should find ourselves right in their wheelhouse.

Charitable donations at court sentencing no longer seem to be the de rigueur they once were, (and the PPSC even has procedures discouraging it’s Crown’s from using them) it’s the recommendation of the OACS that it is worth the time to reach out to those local judges and crowns, build those relationships, and perhaps ultimately help your program financially.

 Chris Scherk

Coordinator - Toronto Crime Stoppers

OACS Director