Constitutional and Criminal Law

The judicial system is complex and confusing, the police and regulatory agencies do not operate with your interests in mind. The most important thing you can do is to consult an experienced criminal defence lawyer. At the very least you will be prepared with a better understanding of the process and your jeopardy. Whatever you do, remember not to talk to the police. Here’s why.

Police make decisions on minimal evidence, there are often other witnesses and other information that has not been investigated. The Crown prosecutor sees only the police version of the story before approving charges. In some cases, we may be able to persuade the police or prosecutor not to proceed with charges.

We will advise you of the strength of the case against you, identify defences, build your case based on the complete story, appear in court for you and negotiate on your behalf to achieve the best outcome for your case.

Common Charges
Our lawyers practice in all areas of criminal law, including provincial offences and appeals.

Driving offences: driving prohibitions, impaired driving, dangerous driving
Drug offences: possession, trafficking, production or importation of a controlled substance
Commercial crime: theft, shoplifting, fraud, possession of stolen property, proceeds of crime, breach of trust
Violent offences: murder, conspiracy to commit murder, manslaughter, criminal negligence, assaults, utter threat, robbery
Weapons offences: storage and licensing, possession of firearms, prohibited weapons, knives, bear spray
Sexual offences: sexual assault, sexual interference or exploitation, child pornography

If the prosecution’s case is weak or if the circumstances were not serious, you may be offered a peace bond. This is a preventative court order with conditions and sometimes supervision. While often tempting to accept this agreement, peace bonds may have important negative consequences for your work and community involvement. Be sure to make an informed decision before agreeing to a peace bond.

Youth Charges

Youth charged with criminal offences are dealt with under the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA). The law recognizes that youth lack maturity and are to be treated differently from adults. The focus should be on their rehabilitation and reintegration, with detention as a last resort. In reality,  charges often snowball for troubled youth. The courts and prosecutors may lose sight of YCJA principles. We will help you understand the procedures and protections available to help your son or daughter defend their charges and return to their potential.

Importance of Bail Hearings

Detention or terms of your release often set the tone for the unfolding of your case. An improperly prepared bail hearing may result in your detention or release on unrealistic conditions. If you are detained, it often takes weeks before an appeal in a higher court can be heard, if at all. If you are unable to follow the release conditions, you will likely be arrested for breaching your court order. Failure to comply with court orders makes it more difficult to seek release and often results in jail time. In many cases, the sentencing for breaches is worse than the underlying offence.

An experienced criminal lawyer will help make sure your bail conditions are workable so that you succeed. Detention or improper release conditions should not be the deciding factor in choosing a guilty plea over trial.

How long will it take?

The judicial system is often painfully slow. While we promise not to drag out your case, it may take a few weeks, sometimes months, to simply obtain a complete package of information from the prosecutor in your case. Your case cannot advance without this disclosure because it details the evidence against you. Even when full disclosure is available at the first appearance, the wait for trial is usually at least 3-6 months. Prepare to be patient. Even when everything goes well, your experience in the criminal justice system will be unpleasant.

How much will it cost?

Unless you are a legal aid client, fees are determined on a case-by-case basis. In most cases, fees are reasonable hourly rates that are usually much lower than our big-city counterparts because we maintain low overhead.

We will ask you to deposit a retainer with us. The deposit is kept in a special account, funds are only withdrawn once we have sent you an invoice for services. The retainer is not the ultimate cost of defending your case, we will ask you to replenish the retainer as the case advances. However, we will also be able to give you a better idea of total costs as the case advances. Any unused funds are returned to you once your file is closed.

Where do you travel?

We have cases across Canada but most of our criminal cases are in British Columbia’s Interior region. We regularly appear in Kamloops, Williams Lake, Merritt and also travel to Vancouver, Kelowna, Vernon, Clearwater, 100 Mile House, Valemount, McBride, Prince George and Anahim Lake.

What do I have to do?

It’s crucial for you to stay in touch with us and to attend court as required. We will likely need your help gathering documents and evidence for your case. Please give us notice if your personal information changes or if you cannot attend an appointment we have scheduled for you.

If you miss a court date and arrangements have not been made for a lawyer to attend, you will be charged with failure to attend court and a warrant will be issued for your arrest. Often, relatively simple charges snowball into a serious record due to breaches of the release conditions and/or missed court dates.