Dealing With Property Suspected of Being Proceeds of Crime

– section 195 of the Crimes Act 1958

dealing with property suspected of being proceeds of crimeWhen someone possess property that the Police suspect is stolen or obtained as a result of a crime.

Examples of Dealing With Property Suspected of Being Proceeds of Crime
  • The police have a warrant to search a man’s home and find a large amount of cash. The man has been unemployed for some time.
  • A CEO of a company is charged and convicted for tax evasion and luxury vehicles at their home are seized by the Federal Police
  • A drug operation is shut down by the Federal Police and money and weapons are seized
What are some of the possible defences to a Dealing With Property Suspected of Being Proceeds of Crime charge?
  • The property was legitimately purchased / obtained
  • There could not be a reasonable suspicion that the property was proceeds of crime

There are other possible defences, depending on the circumstances surrounding the alleged offending. Each matter is unique and requires an individual approach and strategy.

Questions that are asked in cases like this:
  • How did you get the property?
  • Is there a legitimate / legal reason for you having the property?
Maximum penalty and Court that deals with this charge

The maximum penalty for this offence is level 7 imprisonment (2 years).

Dealing with property suspected of being proceeds of crime is the sort of charge regularly heard in the Magistrates’ Court.

What is the legal definition of Dealing With Property Suspected of Being Proceeds of Crime?

Dealing with property reasonably suspected to be proceeds of crime.

Legislation

This offence can be found in section 195 of the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic).

This charge is normally heard in the Magistrates’ Court, but it can also be heard in the County Court.
 
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Elements of the offence

For an accused to be proven guilty, the following elements must be established in court:

  • The accused dealt with property.
  • The property was suspected of being proceeds of crime.
  • The suspicion was on reasonable grounds.

 

“Can the Prosecution prove that you ought to have known that the property was stolen?”

 

Sentencing in the higher courts

From 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2018, there were 435 charges of Dealing With Property Suspected of Being Proceeds of Crime that were heard in the higher courts of Victoria. Majority of these charges resulted in Imprisonment (81.6%) but there were also a few that led to other penalties:

  • Community Correction Order – 10.3%
  • Fine – 6.0%
  • Adjourned Undertaking/Discharge/Dismissal – 0.9%
  • Partially Suspended Sentence – 0.7%
  • Youth Justice Centre Order – 0.5%

Majority of the prison terms imposed were less than a year (78.9%). The longest was somewhere between 1 and 2 years (4.2%).

For Community Correction Orders (CCO), the longest term imposed was more than 5 years but this was least imposed at only 2.2% of the charges that resulted in CCOs. The most frequently imposed CCO term fell between 1 and 2 years (42.2%).1

Please note that suspended sentences were abolished in the higher courts earlier than that of the Magistrates’ Court, and therefore all offences committed on or after 1 September 2013 will not have this available as a sentencing option.2

Sentencing in the Magistrates’ Courts

In the Magistrates’ Courts, a total of 7,435 cases (10,082 charges) of Dealing With Property Suspected of Being Proceeds of Crime were heard from 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2016. These resulted in the following sentences:

  • Imprisonment – 37.3%
  • Community Correction Order (CCO) – 31.5%
  • Fine – 14.3%
  • Wholly Suspended Sentence – 6.6%
  • Adjourned Undertaking/Discharge/Dismissal – 6.5%
  • Partially Suspended Sentence – 2.4%
  • Other – 1.1%
  • Youth Justice Centre Order – 0.5%

prison penalty sentencingOf the cases that led to imprisonment, majority fell under the “3 < 6 months" category (28.2%). The longest term imposed was 36+ months (1.2%). The longest CCO term imposed was 24+ months (8.9% of the charges that led to CCO, non-aggregate). Majority of the CCO terms were somewhere between 12 and 18 months (49.2%, non-aggregate).3

Please note that suspended sentences were abolished in Victoria for all offences committed on or after 1 September 2014.4

Questions a Judge will Ask

A judge presiding over a trial will ask the jury to consider:

  1. Is it reasonable to believe that the property was stolen
  2. Did the accused have the property in his/her possession
  3. Did the accused have a lawful excuse for possessing the property.
Other Important Resources
Case Studies

 



[1] Sentencing Advisory Council. “SACStat Higher Courts – Crimes Act 1958 (Vic): s 195 – dealing with property suspected of being proceeds of crime.” SentencingCouncil.vic.gov.au. https://www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/sacstat/higher_courts/HC_6231_195.html (accessed September 9, 2019).
[2] Sentencing Advisory Council. “Abolished Sentencing Orders.” SentencingCouncil.vic.gov.au. https://www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/about-sentencing/abolished-sentencing-orders (accessed September 9, 2019).
[3] Sentencing Advisory Council. “SAC Statistics – Crimes Act 1958 (Vic): s 195 – dealing with property suspected of being proceeds of crime.” SentencingCouncil.vic.gov.au. https://www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/sacstat/magistrates_court/6231_195.html (accessed September 9, 2019).
[4] Sentencing Advisory Council. “Abolished Sentencing Orders.” SentencingCouncil.vic.gov.au. https://www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/about-sentencing/abolished-sentencing-orders (accessed September 9, 2019).