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I’ve been practicing law for decades and have experience helping people with various charges across Canada (excluding Quebec). While facing criminal charges can feel daunting, you don’t have to face them alone. Contact me today to see how I can help.

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Assault, including Spousal and Sexual Assault

Generally speaking, an assault is when you apply force, or the threat of force, to someone without their consent. If someone alleges you assaulted them you may be charged criminally, in which case the prosecution must prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. If injuries occurred, this may result in more serious charges, such as “assault causing bodily harm” and “aggravated assault”. The more serious the allegations, the greater potentially penalties you face.

If an assault occurs within the context of an intimate relationship, that is often referred to as a “spousal assault”. The immediate consequences of being arrested for spousal assault typically includes a police-ordered ban on contact with the other party, and a ban from going to any place the alleged victim may be (including one’s house). If there are children involved, the ban may include them as well, and Child Services may be involved. I can assist you with all of this, including applying to the court to have the conditions varied. That process typically takes at least a few days to get into court. It is crucial not to ignore or breach any conditions imposed on you as that may result in additional criminal charges and penalties (including jail).

Sexual assault allegations are obviously very serious, and can have significant and life-changing results for those accused of committing them. Because of the strong feelings and societal concerns surrounding such cases, great care must be taken to make sure a person accused of such an offence is treated fairly. It is important to remember one is presumed innocent, and the prosecution must prove the allegations beyond a reasonable doubt. Often, issues of consent (or honest but mistaken belief in consent), are at the forefront. These cases may be complex and involve complicated and nuanced legal issues. It is advisable that anyone being investigated for such an offence consult counsel immediately to obtain advice and avoid making statements to anyone about the allegations until that is done. I am experienced in handling such files and work hard to ensure a person is afforded a fair and comprehensive defence.

Driving While Impaired by Drugs or Alcohol

If you have been pulled over for impaired driving you may face criminal charges, administrative action, or both.

If the police believe you were driving while impaired, they may serve you with a 90-day driving prohibition called an Immediate Roadside Prohibition (“IRP”). While this is not a criminal charge, it can have significant consequences for you. In addition to not being able to drive for 90 days, you would be subject to fines and a requirement that you take a type of group counselling called the Responsible Driver Program (which you have to pay for). There is also a 30-day vehicle impoundment (which again, you have to pay for). In addition, you could be given a further driving prohibition and be required to install (and pay for) an ignition lock system for any vehicle you drive. I have years of experience fighting IRPs for people. If an IRP is successfully challenged, you avoid all of that. There is a strict seven-day time limit to file a challenge, and if a lawyer is going to assist you, they should be the one to file on your behalf to ensure it is done properly.

The police may decide to charge you criminally instead of serving you with a 90-day IRP. If that happens, they may also serve you with a different kind of 90-day driving prohibition in addition to the criminal charges. The 90-day driving prohibition that accompanies criminal charges is called an Administrative Driving Prohibition (“ADP”). It also has a seven-day filing timeline and can have similar consequences as an IRP.

The criminal charges are, of course, the most serious. If convicted, you face a minimum driving prohibition of one year (which is in addition to the 90-day driving prohibition), larger fines, mandatory group counselling, 10 ICBC penalty points on your licence, ICBC driver risk premiums in the thousands of dollars, and a criminal record. There is also the ignition interlock program to consider – it can be a year or more, if imposed.

Defending these charges is often highly technical, and having an experienced counsel can be a great asset. I have been successfully defending people charged with impaired driving since 1996.

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Theft, Robbery, and Property Crimes

Theft involves the taking of someone else’s property fraudulently and without right. Theft charges can encompass a wide range of actions, from shoplifting to complex schemes involving hundreds of thousands of dollars. Penalties for theft can therefore vary greatly, from matters that are resolved extra-judicially without a criminal conviction, to prison sentences.

If there is a dispute about ownership, property or payment, that does not necessarily mean one party is guilty of a criminal offence. Sometimes a dispute over money or property is simply a dispute and does not involve criminal intent.

All elements of the offence must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, and there may be challenging issues of proof. Related offences include possession of property obtained by crime, fraud, and robbery (which is typically theft with violence, or the threat of violence). Speaking with experienced counsel may be important where there is a property-based dispute. I have assisted many people facing such charges, including matters involving hundreds of thousands of dollars and involving detailed forensic investigations.

Drug Charges

Possession and trafficking of illicit drugs is an area of the law that has changed greatly since I began practicing law in 1996. I began my career as a federal drug prosecutor and prosecuted such cases for a few years before moving over to defence.

I have defended cases involving heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, ecstasy, psilocybin (“magic mushrooms”), cannabis, methamphetamine, and other controlled substances. I have successfully fought cases involving search warrants, unlawful searches and seizures, and other cases engaging a person’s rights and freedoms under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The law surrounding drug possession is dynamic and in flux. Possession of certain amounts of cannabis is no longer a criminal offence but is still heavily regulated. British Columbia is currently experimenting in decriminalizing a small amount of certain illicit substances for personal use, in an attempt to address the rise of drug overdoses. Selling or trafficking in drugs is still a criminal offence, and can be a serious one, taking into account the substance involved, the quantities and the circumstances. For example, commercial trafficking in fentanyl can attract serious prison sentences.

If you are facing a drug offence, it is highly advisable to get legal assistance from a lawyer who is experienced in the area. Defences often involve complex issues involving Charter rights. If an accused person’s rights were violated by the state, the court may exclude the evidence from trial or even terminate the prosecution.

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Internet and Computer-Based Crime

This is a rapidly growing and evolving area of the law. It includes serious offences, such as possession of child pornography and internet luring. Such allegations can have serious consequences for a person, including to their employment, access to their children and, of course, the potential for significant jail or prison sentences. The prosecution must, as in all cases, prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. With computer-based offences, the way data is stored and transmitted may be key. In possession of child pornography cases, a person must have both knowledge of the presence of the illicit images, and control over them. Because of the sophisticated and often invasive nature of computer forensic investigations, careful scrutiny must be made of the methods employed by investigators. Warrants are often required, and the way they are obtained and executed may violate a person’s Charter rights. Police must work within their authority, and serious violations of a person’s Charter rights may result in the exclusion of evidence.

Recently, the non-consensual sharing of intimate images was added to the Criminal Code of Canada, making it a criminal offence. This development is resulting in people, including young persons, now facing serious charges.

I have dealt with numerous cases involving internet and computer-based crime. People charged with such offences are often deeply embarrassed or ashamed, and I am sensitive to that. I can assist if one disputes their guilt or is looking to best mitigate a mistake or lapse in judgment.

Criminal Appeals and Judicial Reviews

A person who is convicted of a criminal offence may appeal their conviction, or sentence, or both. An appeal is not an automatic review of the judge’s decision; an appellant must show a significant error in fact or law on the part of the judge. Depending on the nature of the underlying offence, and appeal may lie with the BC Supreme Court or the BC Court of Appeal. Time limits apply to the filing of an appeal, and it is prudent to seek the advice of counsel as soon as possible to ensure you do not miss your chance to appeal.

Judicial review is similar to an appeal and is where the court exercises its supervisory role of government decision makers. For example, if one is dissatisfied with the decision of an administrative tribunal such as the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles, one can ask the BC Supreme Court to review that decision if it is unreasonable, incorrect in law, and there has been a denial of procedural fairness. As with an appeal, there may be time limits involved with judicial reviews.

I have successfully conducted appeals in both the BC Supreme Court and BC Court of Appeal, as well as successfully conducting judicial reviews in BC Supreme Court.

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Other Criminal Charges

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I have represented persons facing all manner of criminal charges, from the relatively minor to the very serious. I have extensive experience in criminal law, starting with my call to the British Columbia bar in 1996. By virtue of my membership in the Law Society of British Columbia, I am able to practice in most of the provinces and territories in Canada (except Quebec) for certain periods of time. I have represented local clients with criminal charges throughout British Columbia, in the Yukon, Alberta, Ontario and Newfoundland. Whatever charges you may be facing, I would be pleased to discuss assisting you.