Civil Forfeiture Office

Since 2008, Alberta has used the civil forfeiture program to make communities safer. Civil forfeiture deters crime by taking the profit out of crime, and it reduces crime by taking away money and property required to carry out future crime.

Together with police, civil forfeiture can target dangerous property for removal from communities, including vehicles used to commit crime or homes used to grow marijuana. Civil forfeiture is particularly useful in combatting organized crime because it strikes at the financial core of the organization. Civil forfeiture can also directly compensate victims.

Victims Restitution and Compensation Payment Act

The Victims Restitution and Compensation Payment Act allows the Civil Forfeiture Office to ask the court to restrain, and later forfeit, property. An order restraining property prevents it from being sold until a court makes a final ruling about whether it should be returned or disposed of.

If the court finds that the property was obtained by crime or used to commit crime, then the court can direct the proceeds to compensate victims, reimburse expenses and/or be forfeited to the Civil Forfeiture Fund. The Civil Forfeiture Office has to prove, based on a balance of probabilities, that the property was:

  • acquired by illegal means, or
  • used to carry out an illegal activity that was likely to cause bodily harm or illegal gain

People opposed to their property being claimed by the CFO can avoid forfeiture by establishing that they were not involved and not aware of the offence.

Read the legislation

What property can be forfeited? 

All types of property, including cash, cars and real estate can be forfeited.

Civil forfeiture can be used for property obtained through crime or used to commit a crime under the Criminal Code or the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

How the proceeds help

Proceeds of criminal property seized by the Civil Forfeiture Office are being used to compensate identifiable victims. This includes returning money to victims of fraudulent vehicle sales and theft.

Proceeds are also being used to fund community-based programs focused on supporting victims and preventing crime, including shelters for victims of family violence and gang-reduction programs.

Approved CFO Projects for 2014 - 96 KB  Download Adobe Acrobat Reader

The civil forfeiture program has allocated a total of $7.1 million to community organizations for crime prevention and victim assistance.

How many forfeitures has Alberta obtained?

As of January 1, 2015, Alberta's Civil Forfeiture Office has:

  • opened over 800 files referred from police agencies
  • obtained court orders for the forfeiture of more than $12.7 million (net)
  • obtained orders to sell more than 230 vehicles that were used to commit crime, with the proceeds being forfeited
  • obtained orders for the sale of over 30 residential homes used for marijuana grow operations, with the proceeds being forfeited

Some of the cases handled by the Civil Forfeiture Office involved:

  • a truck used to transport chemicals to make ecstasy at an illegal super lab in B.C.
  • vehicles found with small children onboard while family members were running dial-a-dope operations
  • luxury vehicles found with handguns or drugs in sophisticated hidden compartments
  • a truck used in a violent road rage incident by a person with a history of simlar behaviour

The call for grant applications is now closed.