Tag Archives: criminal law

Summer of criminal law for TRU Law student

Irene Chan had a summer of criminal law in 2021 at our firm

Irene Shih, Summer Student

Smith Law Group has hired a Thompson Rivers University law student for the summer. Irene Shih, who has a strong interest in criminal law, has completed her second year of law school in Kamloops. Over the summer, Irene will gain practical experience in criminal law, under the supervision of Brad Smith, QC and Danielle Ching McNamee.

“The experience law students gain in working in our criminal law firm helps them on their journey to become lawyers,” said Brad Smith, QC. “It’s a fantastic opportunity which I’m pleased to offer to a student who is especially interested in criminal law. They gain practical knowledge as well as insight into the professional conduct of lawyers.”

Irene will attend court to watch legal proceedings and conduct research.

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!

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!

Getting off on a “technicality”: Criminal charges and your rights

Critics of Canadian criminal law sometimes complain about people getting off on a “technicality.” Usually the so-called “technicality” is that the police violated an accused person’s Charter rights. The prosecution often can’t use evidence that was gained that way. As a result the prosecution’s case falls apart. No surprise then, that your average person may think the Charter mostly protects criminals.

But what is the Charter, and what does it stand for?

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a guarantee that everyone in Canada has certain rights when dealing with the government. It’s such an important guarantee that it’s part of the Canadian constitution.

Basically, Charter rights are aimed at ensuring that we receive fair treatment at the hands of the government. Things like the right to call a lawyer upon being arrested by the police, or to expect that they won’t show up to search your home without a warrant.

Sounds reasonable, right?

I’ll bet that if you happened to be the one whose rights were violated you’d want to make sure someone was held accountable. That’s what the Charter does. It’s the legal means by which individuals like you and me can hold the government accountable for the rights we all enjoy.

Sure, when a judge tosses evidence in a criminal case because police violated rights of an accused it may mean a guilty person gets acquitted. But that’s only part of the picture. What most people don’t realize is that when judges uphold the constitution they’re protecting us all. It’s called the rule of law – that the law applies to everyone, including the police – and it’s one of the reasons we live in such a great country.

So talk to a criminal defence lawyer

You need an experienced, knowledgeable and skilled criminal defence lawyer in your corner when your liberty is at stake. Someone who isn’t afraid to hold the government accountable. Guilty or not, you need to have your rights protected and defended. It protects you. It protects us all.