Criminal convictions carry penalties which can include fines, probation and jail terms. In addition to the direct penalties that may apply in a given case, criminal convictions may reduce your freedom to travel and significantly limit the employment that may be available to you.
Parliament continues to amend Canadian criminal law to limit a judge's discretion to apply different sanctions depending on the facts of the case, in favour of minimum jail terms. The availability of a discharge for certain offences is similarly being eroded. Prosecutors maintain the discretion to proceed against an offender in various ways, however, some of which may not result in jail time, or even a criminal conviction.
Particularly as new laws limit the court's discretion, your lawyer's working relationship with the prosecutor is critical to the outcome of your case.
We defend charges of any offence in the Criminal Code of Canada, and we achieve excellent results for our clients. We have experience in cases including:
- mischief, thefts and simple assaults;
- significant property, fraud and commercial crime;
- serious and aggravated assaults;
- sexual offences, including pornography offences; and
- first degree murder and motor vehicle incidents resulting in death.
We also defend charges of possessing, producing, trafficking and importing/exporting drugs under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
Motor Vehicle Act
With the introduction of the Responsible Driver Program, the Driver Improvement Program and graduated licensing, Driver Risk Premiums and Penalty Point Premiums, Immediate Roadside Prohibitions and the Interlock Ignition Program, a traffic stop can be the gateway to a minefield of penalties for the best of drivers.
The amount of time you have to dispute many of these penalties is usually very short.
If you have had an encounter with police while driving, prompt consultation with a lawyer who has expertise in all matters relating to the Motor Vehicle Act may significantly reduce the jeopardy of fines, drastic increases to your insurance costs, driving prohibitions and even civil consequences if there has been a collision.
It is our experience that with trial skills and strategy, most violation tickets can be extinguished in court.
Other Regulatory Offences
We have represented individuals with charges arising from dealings with Canada Border Services Agency, municipal bylaw enforcement officers, immigration authorities, ICBC adjusters, commercial vehicle inspectors, fisheries officers and Canada Revenue Agency.
While the direct result of a conviction for such regulatory offences is usually a fine (and sometimes jail in the most serious cases), indirect results can include heightened scrutiny or a denial of service when an offender encounters these authorities in the future.
Although it may be tempting to plead guilty and accept a fine at your first appearance in court if you are charged in a regulatory matter, often it makes economic sense to obtain legal counsel to advise you of all the consequences of a conviction, and to explore your chances of having a regulatory charge dismissed at trial.
We are experienced in securing the return of property seized under these authorities:
- Proceeds of Crime and Terrorist Financing Act, which usually involves the attempted transfer of undeclared money out of Canada;
- the B.C. Civil Forfeiture Act, including intended forfeiture of motor vehicles, cash and real property;
- Criminal Code, s. 490;
- Customs Act; and
- Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
There are strict statutory time limits to dispute many seizures. Obtaining legal counsel promptly after authorities have seized your money or property is critical to securing its return.
Civil and Administrative Matters
Although the bulk of our practice involves defending individuals against agents of the state, we offer effective, streamlined and affordable representation in civil or administrative matters such as:
- residential tenancy evictions;
- residential tenancy disputes;
- appeals or judicial reviews of residential tenancy branch decisions; and
- small claims cases, including injury cases and construction disputes.