Forfeiture of a Family Home under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act

The BC Supreme Court recently issued a decision regarding the forfeiture of a family home when that home was found to be offence-related property. In R. v. Nguyen, 2011 BCSC 100, the defendant pled guilty to operating a small marijuana grow operation in the home he shared with his wife and daughter. As part of the process, the Crown applied for an order that the family home be forfeited.

Under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, once a person is convicted of a drug-related offence, any property that is used in connection with the commission of that offence is subject to forfeiture to the Minister of Health. However, when the offence-related property is a dwelling, the Court must consider the impact of its forfeiture on other members of the household before making an order.

In this case, the grow operation was confined to a small portion of the home, and there was evidence that the family had built up equity in the property using legitimate income. While the Court did not accept that the wife was completely unaware of her husband’s illegal activities, it was determined that the forfeiture of the entire property would “represent a serious blow” to the offender’s daughter, and the family as a whole. The Court held that total forfeiture of the property would have been disproportionate and instead ordered that one third of the equity in the home, or $105,000, was to be forfeited.

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