The functionality of the criminal justice system

Extended confiscation as a criminal law sanction (post. doc project)

This project concerns confiscation, and particularly extended confiscation, as a criminal law sanction.

Main content

Confiscation refers to the seizure by and transference to the state of property as a consequence of crime. The normal rules on confiscation adhere to the standards of the criminal procedure, particularly the presumption of innocence and the requirement of proving a crime beyond reasonable doubt. However, in some situations individuals convicted of certain crimes possess property to an extent that doesn’t reasonably reflect their lawful income. Despite it being clear that the means originate from criminal activity, a confiscation claim will be rejected if the requirements are not fulfilled. As this has been considered a problem, all of the Nordic countries have implemented a set of particular rules on extended confiscation. These are to be applied in relation to more serious crimes (dealings in narcotics, smuggling and organised crime intentionally committed to achieve economic profit). The rules modify the traditional standards applied to the disadvantage of the accused, by reversing the burden of proof, lowering the threshold of evidence that applies or by not requiring proofs beyond reasonable doubt as to the connection to a particular crime of the means. The tendency to alter the basic safeguards of the criminal procedure to the disadvantage of the accused is, however, far from unproblematic. Such high standards are necessary due to the inherent character of criminal law to unilaterally afflict pain on the individual.

The research project will analyse the fundamental problems surrounding the legislation on confiscation and particularly extended confiscation in a comparative perspective on Finland, Norway and Sweden. The ambition is to evaluate how the existing legislation fits together with the basic principles of criminal and criminal procedural law. Of particular interest is the European Convention on Human Rights and the ambitions of the EU.