Legal regulation on handling criminally acquired property and its impact upon business environment - the experience of Latvia

Author:Armands Smans
Position:The Faculty of Law, the University of Latvia
Pages:179-200
Legal regulation on handling criminally acquired property
and its impact upon business environment the experience
of Latvia
Mg. iur., PhD. student Armands SMANS
1
Abstract
The prevailing importance of material values in contemporary society,
undoubtedly, influences the nature of crime. At present, the main a im of criminal offences is
to gain material benefits. In such conditions, in the majority of criminal cases it is
inconceivable that the purpose of criminal proceedings could be reached without effective
resolution of material issues of criminal procedure. The article examines the regulation on
handling criminally acquired property in the Latvian criminal proce dure, as well as
assesses the impact of this regulation upon the business environment. I.e., the study
provides answers to questions related to protecting the rights of a merchant as a victim, by
using the tools envisaged by the Criminal Procedu re Law. The study also examines
business risks linked to such cases, where law enforcemen t institutions presume illegal
origins of a merchant’s property. The research also focuses on implementation of the
aforementioned legal instruments in correlation with human rights recognized in the
European Union. The article provides an insight into the relevant issues in the Latvian
criminal procedure in connection with confiscation of criminally acquired property or
returning it to the victim, as well as into Latvia’s experience in implementing the Directive
2014/42/EU. Hopefully, the findings expressed in th e article will be useful both fo r the
theoreticians and practitioners of criminal procedure and will contribute to international
sharing of experience. The following research methods have been used in preparing this
article: analysis and synthesis of legal literature, of case law, and regulatory enactments;
comparative method, analytical method, inductive and deductive method.
Keywords: criminal procedure, property issues in criminal proceedings, criminally
obtained property, proce edings regarding criminally obtained property, commercial
activities.
JEL classification: K14, K22
1. Introduction
The prevailing importance of material values in contemporary society
2
,
undoubtedly, influences also the nature of crime. At present, the main aim of
1
Armands Smans - The Faculty of Law, the University of Latvia, smans.armands@gmail.com.
2
Hamkova D. Noziedzīga noda rījuma kvalificēta un salikta sastāva konstrukcijas problēmas. In
book: Tiesību efektivitāte postmodernā sabiedrībā. Latvijas Universitātes 73. zinātniskās
konferences rakstu krājums. Rīga: LU Akadēmiskais apgāds, 2015, p. 157.
180 Volume 8, Issue 1, March 2018 Juridical Tribune
criminal offences is to gain material benefits
3
. In view of the above, in the majority
of criminal cases it is inconceivable that the purpose of criminal proceedings,
defined in Section 1 of the Criminal Procedure Law that is in force in Latvia
(hereinafter the Criminal Procedure Law) - the fair regulation of criminal legal
relations
4
could be achieved without an effective solution to the property issues
of the criminal proceedings. Therefore, it is important that legal regulation on
reaching the solution to property issues in criminal proceedings would comply with
contemporary requirements and would facilitate reaching the purpose of the
criminal procedure without unjustified intervention in the life of a person.
One of the property issues in criminal proceedings is the handling of a
criminally obtained property
5
. This issue of property is linked to the principle,
which is generally recognised in criminal procedure law, that a person, who has
committed a criminal offence, should not enjoy the material benefits gained as the
result of the criminal offence
6
. In this regard, it has been validly pointed out in
legal literature that the person should be “deprived of” what he has gained illegally
or by using what had been illegally obtained, i.e., unjustly
7
. The opinion that the
development of crime is thus deprived of its economic grounds can be found in
periodicals
8
. Hence, pursuant to Section 7011 (1) of the Criminal Law that is in
force in Latvia (hereinafter the Criminal Law), a property, “which has come into
the ownership or possession of a person as a direct or indirect result of a criminal
offence” must be recognised as being criminally obtained.
The article examines regulation on the handling of a criminally acquired
property in the Latvian criminal procedure and also assesses the impact of this
regulation on business environment. I.e., the study provides answers to questions
linked to the possibilities for protecting the rights of a merchant as a victim, using
the tools provided for by the Criminal Procedure Law that is in force in Latvia. The
research also examines the risks of business activities linked to cases, where law
enforcement institutions presume that the merchant’s property has been criminally
obtained. Likewise, the study focuses on correlation between the use of the
3
Kūtris G. Noziedzīgi iegūta manta: tiesiskais regulējums un problemātika. “Jurista Vārds”, 17 April
2007, No. 16 (469). The document is available online at: http://www.juristavards.lv/doc/155864-
noziedzigi-ieguta-manta-tiesiskais-regulejums-un-problematika/ [accessed on 27 October 2017].
4
Meikališa Ā., Strada-Rozenberga K. Kriminālprocesa izpratne, mērķis un kriminālprocesa tiesību
avoti. In book: Meikališa Ā., Strada-Rozenberga K. Kriminālprocess. Raksti. 2005–2010. Rīga:
Latvijas Vēstnesis, 2010, p. 35.
5
See Meikališa Ā., Strada-Rozenberga K. Procesuālie termiņi, dokumenti un mantiskie jautājumi. In
book: Meikališa Ā., Strada-Rozenberga K. Kriminālprocess. Raksti. 2005–2010. Rīga: Latvijas
Vēstnesis, 2010, p. 185.
6
Boucht J. Civil Asset Forfeiture and The Presumption of Innocence under Article 6(2) ECHR. New
Journal of European Criminal Law”, Vol. 5, Issue 2, 2014, p. 221.
7
Meikališa Ā., Strada-Rozenberga K. Procesuālie termiņi, dokumenti un mantiskie jautājumi. In
book: Meikališa Ā., Strada-Rozenberga K. Kriminālprocess. Raksti. 2005–2010. Rīga: Latvijas
Vēstnesis, 2010, p. 183.
8
Kūtris G. Noziedzīgi iegūta manta: tiesiskais regulējums un problemātika. “Jurista Vārds”, 17 April
2007, No. 16 (469). The document is available online at: http://www.juristavards.lv/doc/155864-
noziedzigi-ieguta-manta-tiesiskais-regulejums-un-problematika/ [accessed on 27 October 2017].

To continue reading

Request your trial