Nova Scotia

N.S. wins first civil forfeiture case

The province has won its inaugural court case under new legislation that allows property believed to have been gained through illegal activity to be seized, even if no criminal charges have been laid.

The province has won its inaugural court case under new legislation that allows property believed to have been gained through illegal activity to be seized, even if no criminal charges have been laid.

The lawsuit, filed in the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia in Sydney by the new civil forfeiture unit, sought $5,725 that was seized in a Feb. 18 drug raid in Sydney Mines by Cape Breton Regional Police Service.

A Supreme Court judge ruled in the government's favour on Tuesday.

In a news release, acting Justice Minister Graham Steele, said that the success of the case sends a message that crime won't pay in Nova Scotia.

Cases are referred to the civil forfeiture unit by police when there is evidence of criminal activity, like selling stolen property, but charges haven't been laid. The unit then goes through civil court to try to have the property or cash turned over to the province.

In cases where charges are laid, and property is not seized by another law enforcement agency or forfeited by the criminal court, the unit can seize the property and ask civil court for it to be turned over.

In the case in question, police found the cash hidden in the ceiling of John Joseph Reynolds's home during a drug raid.

While Reynolds had not been found guilty of trafficking, the province said the 36-year-old man earned the money selling marijuana and hash. Reynolds told the court that he earned the money from working as a drywaller and part-time crab fisherman.

Revenue from the program helps fund crime prevention and victim services programs, as well as the civil forfeiture unit.

The law came into effect April 29.

now