Category Archives: Criminal Law

Remember this rule when facing criminal charges

Rule #2: “Don’t make any statements.”

That’s what we tell people who have been arrested or are being investigated by the police. Maybe they’re facing criminal charges, maybe the police are looking into their lives, maybe the police say they just want to chat.

When you talk to the police, they collect evidence. They build a criminal case—what you say can be used against you.

What if you deny everything to the police?

Remember Rule #2.

You don’t know what evidence the police have. For instance, maybe the police have DNA evidence showing you were in a certain place, say a car. If you deny you were in the car, what does that show? Maybe there are witnesses who saw you in the car. When you deny you were in the car, now the police have more information. They have you denying you were in a car when evidence clearly shows that you were. Now the police are really interested. Now they’re asking more questions. Through your denial, you have painted yourself into a corner and might be wishing you could have a do-over and stick to rule #2.

This denial scenario has been called a reverse confession. You think you’re not confessing to anything but everything you say helps police build a case against you.

The bottom line: Don’t make ANY statements.

What’s Rule #1?

Get an experienced criminal lawyer.

If you’re in trouble with the law or facing charges, you need an experienced criminal lawyer to defend you. We can help.

Our lawyers practise exclusively in criminal law. Whether you’re facing criminal charges for sexual offences, drug offences or murder, we can help you. Any criminal charges, anywhere in BC. Call us today.

“I don’t know who your lawyer is, but they must be GOOD!”

We get the best feedback from our clients! One client was recently arrested and taken into police custody on serious criminal charges just two hours before end of court day on a Friday of a long weekend. What does it mean when you’re arrested last-minute like that? It sure makes you wonder if someone wants you to spend your whole long weekend in custody. Generally, it takes time to reach a criminal lawyer and get the wheels of justice in motion. Many criminal defence law offices close early on the Friday before a long weekend—but not ours. We don’t want our clients stuck in custody for the weekend, usually after the police have tried to have a long chat with them “to get their side of the story”.

In this case, our client immediately called us and we got to work fast. It’s how we defend against criminal charges. If you or someone you know is under investigation by the police, or facing criminal charges, we have skilled criminal lawyers available and ready to help anywhere in BC, whether it be Kamloops, Williams Lake, Vernon… you name it.

This brief story ends well. Within those two hours, our client was released. As they left custody, an official said to them, “I don’t know who your lawyer is, but they must be GOOD!”

The client called us and told us about it—as they too headed out for the long weekend.

 

Quarantine and the Law

With the worsening of the COVID-19 pandemic, any of us could end up in hospital, but could we also end up in jail?

As reported by local media, a woman in Quebec infected with COVID-19 was arrested by police after she didn’t remain indoors. In Quebec, police will be ordered to arrest people who have the virus but who aren’t self-isolating. In Ontario, provincial police are warning people about fines for refusing to limit social gatherings or close certain businesses.

Closer to home, in Surrey, BC, we have seen media reports that a Bikram yoga studio lost its business licence for continuing to offer classes after being ordered not to.

Quarantine Act

It may surprise people to discover that Canada has a Quarantine Act which was designed to help prevent the introduction and spread of communicable diseases. Some of what the federal law includes, are:

  • Fines of up to $1 million dollars or 3 years in jail for causing “a risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm to another person while willfully or recklessly contravening the Act or the regulations.”
  • The federal Health Minister may create a quarantine station anywhere in Canada and can designate any place in Canada as a quarantine facility. The person whose place is so designated will be compensated for the use of it.
  • Travellers must answer screening questions – all questions – and answer truthfully or they can be isolated. Travellers who refuse to be isolated can be arrested.
  • People who report on others to screening officers, quarantine officers, or environmental health officers can ask that their own identity or characteristics that may identify them, not be disclosed to their employer or to the person they informed on.

If you’re active on social media, you’ve likely seen images or videos of people in large gatherings, in spite of public health orders for us to social distance.

Please do your part. Follow the advice of professionals, and let’s stay healthy!

Revenge porn

“My girlfriend shared nude photos of herself with me while we were dating. She broke up with me out of the blue yesterday, and now I want to get back at her. If I post those nude photos to the Internet, could I get in trouble?”

It’s easy to share photos and videos online – and there are so many social media platforms to share them on. However, sharing intimate images of another person without their consent, can land you in trouble with the law.

It doesn’t matter if you took the photos or videos yourself and the person consented at the time. If you share it with others without the subject’s consent when you do so, it’s a crime.

It’s a bad idea

What you’re thinking of doing is known as revenge porn. Most commonly, revenge porn is a way to get back at an ex-partner for leaving a relationship. It’s often done to embarrass or hurt someone and their reputation. But unfortunately, your revenge porn post could give you an unhappy ending.

Dealing with intimate images without consent can land you in big legal trouble! The list of prohibited activities which can see you sent to jail includes publishing, distributing, selling, making available and advertising. If convicted of a revenge porn offence in Canada, the maximum sentence you could receive is five years in prison. Even worse, if you share intimate images of someone under the age of 16, you could also be charged with distribution of child pornography.

If you’re tempted to hit send, hit delete instead

If you have intimate images of someone, the best way to avoid temptation to engage in revenge porn is to delete them from your devices. That way, the images can remain a memory, not end up as evidence used to convict you of serious criminal charges.

When to consult a lawyer

If you have shared intimate images of someone without their consent, you may already be under police investigation. Don’t wait until the police come calling! Protect yourself by calling an experienced criminal lawyer and get legal advice.

Charged with a sexual offence?

As a criminal defence lawyer, a large part of what I do involves protecting the rights of people who are being investigated or have been charged with a sex offence. Unlike most other types of criminal cases, sex cases involve people – mostly men – from all walks of life. Often the accused in sex cases are men who have been falsely accused by someone they may have had sexual contact with and now they find themselves under investigation or accused of things which can destroy their families, wreck their careers, and stigmatize them in the community.

For the person who has been wrongly accused of a sex crime the stakes could hardly be higher!

If you’re convicted of a sexual offence in Canada…

  1. Depending on the offence, you could be looking at a mandatory minimum jail sentence.
  2. You will have to register on the federal sex offender registry.
  3. You will not be eligible for a record suspension (formerly known as a pardon).

If you believe that you’re going to be investigated or charged with a sex offence, you need to get a criminal defence lawyer with experience defending sex cases on your side right away!

Experience counts

My experience with sex cases includes defending clients who have been charged with:

  • Voyeurism
  • Sexual interference
  • Invitation to sexual touching
  • Sexual assault
  • Possession and production of child pornography

I can help you. Call me today.

What you need to know about record suspensions (pardons)

Is a criminal record dragging you down? We can help you navigate the process of applying for a pardon (now called a record suspension). After we’ve assessed your eligibility, we’ll help you gather the required information and advocate on your behalf wherever possible throughout the application process. Considering what’s at stake, you’ll discover our fees are very reasonable. Contact us today to get started on the process for getting your record suspended.

Reasons to apply for a record suspension/pardon

There are many important reasons to apply for a record suspension/pardon. Maybe you’re finding that a criminal record is closing the door to good job opportunities or international travel. Or maybe you just feel like you need to wipe out the record of a past mistake in your life.

Some criminal records can be set aside

The good news is that a criminal record doesn’t have to be permanent. In some circumstances, you may be eligible for a record suspension. You may be eligible for a record suspension if you:

  • Were convicted of a criminal offence;
  • Have completed your sentence; and
  • Can show that you are a law-abiding citizen.

What is a record suspension?

A record suspension, which used to be called a pardon, takes your criminal record out of the national police database called the Canadian Police Information Centre. It doesn’t erase your record but instead sets it aside. When people search the database, neither your criminal record nor the record suspension will come up.

Applying for a record suspension if you are living in BC

You do not need a lawyer to apply for a record suspension. However, working with a lawyer may help you navigate the process, especially in BC. Recent cases in this province have changed the rules around record suspensions for people living in BC.

We can help you navigate the record suspension process. Contact us today to get started.

Information resources

You can read more about record suspensions on the Government of Canada’s website. Read more

The Government of Canada’s self-assessment tool may help you find out if you might be eligible for a record suspension or pardon. Search for “Record Suspension Self-Assessment Tool” on their website. Visit the Government of Canada website

The police just called. Your teen has been arrested.

It’s the time when teenagers want to party. Summer is on the horizon and there’s steam to let off. Sometimes though, stuff happens. Stuff involving the police. Even though you’re a good parent and have warned your teen about the usual things: drugs, impaired driving, “no means no” — you’ve received a late-night call from the police. Your teen has been arrested.

Talk to a lawyer before talking to the police

One of the biggest mistakes people who’ve been arrested make is believing that if they just tell their side of the story, everything will be okay. If your teen is arrested, they should talk to an experienced criminal defence lawyer before talking to the police or making a statement.

Be ready if the police call

You can help your teen today by doing some advance homework yourself. Know who you would call if the police told you they have your child in custody. The stakes are high. You need an experienced criminal defence lawyer in your teen’s corner protecting their rights now and in the days ahead.

An experienced criminal defence lawyer can help alleviate your fears about the unknown and answer your questions at a time when what’s happening may seem overwhelming. He or she will:

  1. Answer your questions about the process in the days ahead
  2. Gather facts
  3. Develop a plan for moving forward

Don’t wait for the phone to ring! Do your research now and decide who you would contact if the call comes in. And hope that it never does.

Call me; I can help you. I am a criminal defence lawyer with more than 20 years of specialized experience in criminal law.

Spousal assault and “no contact” conditions

As a criminal lawyer, I often see certain fact patterns over and over. One of them typically happens in spousal assault cases. If you’ve been charged with assault, you need a criminal defence lawyer. Contact me. I can help you.

This is how the story usually goes

A couple – let’s call them Jack and Diane – get into an argument. Things get heated. Things get physical. Let’s say Jack slaps Diane, who calls the cops.

Then Jack:

  • gets arrested,
  • has to move out,
  • gets put on conditions like “no contact” and “no go,” and
  • is charged with spousal assault.

Jack and Diane are now part of the life of what the BC Criminal Justice Branch calls a “K” file.

BC Crown Counsel take spousal violence cases very seriously. How seriously? There’s a 21-page Practice Bulletin on the topic in the BC Crown Counsel Policy Manual.

In spousal violence, or “K”, files it’s a standard condition for guys like Jack to be subject to a condition that he have no contact with the victim of his alleged assault, in this case Diane, and not go to places where she lives, works, goes to school, etc.

Then things get worse

What often happens though is that Jack and Diane may find it difficult to be apart from one another. One of them texts the other. Let’s say it’s Diane who texts Jack. Jacks texts her back. Before you know it, they’re texting back and forth. But because they’re in a bad relationship to begin with, it isn’t long before things go sour. Diane decides to report Jack’s breaches of the “no contact” to the police. Now Jack faces a new charge: breach of undertaking. And the courts take that very seriously.

This is not make-believe. It happens all the time.

So now Jack has two criminal charges. It isn’t unusual for a guy in Jack’s situation to find that a prosecutor will use Jack’s breach of the “no contact” condition with Diane as evidence that he can’t—or won’t—follow the conditions of his release, that he’s a loose cannon, that the court needs to be tough on him. We can all guess how this story could end for Jack.

My advice: Just block it

As a criminal defence lawyer, I tell my clients to block the number of anybody they are forbidden to have contact with. Simple as that. Just block it. Don’t have contact with them – just disappear from the story – while I deal with your criminal charges.

Again, if you’ve been charged with assault, you need a criminal defence lawyer. Contact me. I can help you.

Sometimes no news is good news

At the risk of making you hungry, I want to talk about cake. Picture a thin layer of icing covering a fluffy filling.

In a criminal case, the icing is the stuff that goes to trial in court. Maybe it gets media coverage, maybe it doesn’t. Hidden beneath the icing however is lots of other stuff, criminal law problems which get resolved before they ever see the inside of a courtroom.

Resolving criminal law problems early and quietly

As a criminal defence lawyer, I’m always up for a good courtroom battle when necessary. Mostly though, my clients want to avoid a trial, court, and potential media stories. Their best result often involves resolving criminal law problems early, and quietly. And I’m pretty good at that too. I have a lot experience defending clients charged with criminal offences but many of my matters never go to trial or even to court.

Preparing and negotiating

For those that are likely to be picked up by the media, I make sure my client and I have a solid media strategy in place beforehand. Either way, through negotiation and proper early criminal law advice, I can help my clients quietly find their way through life’s stickier situations.

So now you have a new perspective on cake. Sure, there’s the icing, but there’s also a lot going on under the surface – sometimes the best part of the cake is the part you don’t see!

Who you gonna call?

I wouldn’t say I was happy when the police called me at 3 a.m., but I was definitely prepared.

One of my clients had been arrested and needed criminal law advice. I was really glad he called me. I was able to give him the advice he needed to protect him – both in the moment and down the road.

Because my client exercised his right to call me, his criminal defence lawyer, it meant he didn’t make his situation any worse. He didn’t talk to the police. I was able to explain to him that even though he thought he’d done nothing wrong, the police investigate when they think there’s been a crime and they gather evidence against the person they think is responsible. They wanted to talk to my client as part of the evidence gathering process. It wasn’t in my client’s best interest to talk to the police and, following my advice, he didn’t.

Another time I like to hear from clients, and new clients in particular, is right after something bad happens, even if the police aren’t yet involved. If it’s something the police are likely to be interested in, you can bet it’s good to have the advice of an experienced criminal defence lawyer, right away. Even at 3 a.m.

Stuff happens. Who you gonna call?