Criminal Law: BC Criminal Defence Lawyers

Criminal Law

Criminal Law: ArsonAssault | Drugs | Fraud | Mischief | Robbery | Theft | Sexual Assault

We have extensive experience defending criminal charges in many areas of law. We’ll defend most cases with the exception of murder. We believe that those facing investigation or criminal charges are often good people who have simply made a mistake. Our goal in all cases is to find a successful outcome in court and help our clients avoid jail time or a criminal record. Our lawyers at Acumen Law Corporation have experience defending everything from shoplifting to attempted murder.

Call Acumen Law Corporation today for a free, no-obligation consultation. Here are some of the reasons many clients have reached out to us for:

 

Arson

Arson

Arson in Canada is recognized as a serious, indictable offence that often accompanies jail time upon conviction. The courts recognize that fire, by its very nature, is inherently dangerous and difficult to control. There are four categories of arson, defined by sections 433 to 436 of the Criminal Code. Maximum sentences range from five years to life imprisonment.

433 – Disregard for human life: intentionally or recklessly setting a fire or explosion to property when a property is occupied or the fire or explosion causes bodily harm to someone.

434 – Damage to property: intentionally or recklessly damaging property not owned by the accused by means of fire or explosion.

434.1 – Own property: intentionally or recklessly setting fire or explosion to your own property where the fire or explosion threatens the health, safety or property of someone else.

435 – For fraudulent purpose: causing damage by fire or explosion with the intention of committing fraud.

436 – By negligence: Failing to prevent fire or explosion at a property the accused owns or controls by failing to take reasonable care to prevent or control the spread of fires and explosion.

When assessing cases of arson, the courts will take into account additional factors such as whether the person who set the fire was intoxicated at the time of the offence. Other factors could include the motivation to set a fire. For example, was the person motivated to set the fire as part of thrill-seeking behaviour, or were there ulterior motives, such as to cover evidence left behind from committing other crimes?

In many cases, those who have been charged with arson are young offenders facing their first criminal charge. Many of these young offenders did not mean to cause significant harm. However, it’s important to understand that even in cases where only minor property damage was caused, the courts have issued significant jail sentences. Often, sentencing will take into account not just the amount of property damage, but also the potential for further damage and bodily harm had the fire remained uncontrolled.

 

Assault

In prosecuting an assault charge, the prosecution must prove one of three things. That the person accused “applied force” to someone without consent. That the person accused threatened someone causing the victim to feel that the threat will be carried out. Or that the person accused begged or obstructed someone while openly wearing a weapon.

It is up to the Crown prosecutor to prove the allegation beyond a reasonable doubt. It is up to the court to identify whether the alleged offence took place. In the case of an assault, the court must also decide whether the person who was assaulted had consented to the assault, fully appreciating what consent implies. In other words, a court may decide an assault did not occur if both participants in a fight were willing and understood the risks involved. For the s. 265 offence of basic assault, the maximum penalty is five years imprisonment.

However, there are several levels beyond “basic” assault. Assault with a weapon/Assault causing bodily harm involves someone who uses, or threatens to use a weapon or imitation weapon to commit an assault. Or, while in the act of assaulting someone, causes bodily harm or injury to that person. At this level, an offender could see a maximum of 10 years imprisonment if found guilty of an indictable offence. If an accused is found guilty of a summary conviction, the maximum is up to 18 months.

Aggravated assault is generally the most serious form of assault short of an attempted murder charge. A person can be charged with aggravated assault if the person assaulted has been wounded, maimed or disfigured. In other words, the person injured suffered a lasting injury. Those found guilty of aggravated assault may be imprisoned for up to 14 years.

 

Drugs

Drugs

There are five types of drug offences for which you may be prosecuted in Canada:

1) Possession of a Prohibited or Controlled Substance

2) Possession of a Controlled Substance for the Purposes of Trafficking

3) Trafficking in a Prohibited or Controlled Substance

4) Producing, Cultivating or Growing a Controlled Substance

5) Importing, Exporting or Possessing for the Purpose of Exporting a Controlled Substance

Commonly, those arrested by police in relation to drugs are likely to be first-time offenders who have been arrested for possession of a controlled substance. Government takes a tough stance against possession of hard drugs and a first-time conviction can be the first step in a downward spiral towards further drug charges in the future.

We believe that the focus for first-time offenders for drug possession offences should be rehabilitation. Jail time is not effective to deter future drug offences. If anything, placing a first-time offender in the penal system can result in the individual being introduced to “harder” criminals and falling further into a path of addiction. We work first and foremost to keep our clients free of a criminal record.

At Acumen Law Corporation, we also have considerable experience defending those charged with trafficking in controlled substances or cultivating marijuana. Police will often use undercover tactics to target those suspected of running dial-a-dope lines. Typically, those who are arrested were targeted by an undercover police officer who arranged a meeting to purchase drugs from the accused. Many of those who are accused are young people, often lured into drug trafficking by the promise of easy money. We have a successful track record of turning young people away from the drug dealer lifestyle.

Often, those charged with marijuana cultivation offences are not criminals. They are good people who simply wanted to grow a few plants for personal consumption at home. However, government is strongly opposed to marijuana cultivation and the maximum sentence for this type of offence can be up to seven years. In many cases, we have been successful in defending marijuana cultivation charges. Our clients have included people arrested while running away from a marijuana grow operation, living in a home above the grow-op, and even working inside a grow-operation.

 

Fraud

fraud

Fraud cases are often considered financial crimes involving complex police investigations. Upon conviction, the most serious cases of fraud are accompanied with two-year minimum prison sentences. For instances of fraud affecting the public market price of stocks, shares or anything sold to the public, the punishment can be up to 14 years imprisonment.

An experienced criminal defence lawyer has the expertise to look closely at each individual accusation of fraud to decide the best course of action. Different types of fraud-related offences can include everything from falsifying employment records, credit card fraud, identity theft and forgery.

Just under identity theft alone, there are a large number of offences that can result in prison sentences. These include the forgery of passports, impersonating a police officer, uttering false statements and possessing a forged document. Due to the wide number of offences someone accused of fraud can be prosecuted with, it is a good idea to first speak with a criminal defence lawyer about your case instead of attempting to take matters into your own hands.

 

Mischief

Mischief

Mischief is a property related offence that’s often used when something has been vandalized or otherwise tampered with. It may be considered a less serious offence, but a mischief conviction can still have significant repercussions for someone’s personal and professional reputation, even years later. Often, those charged with mischief are younger people or otherwise responsible people who have simply made a mistake.

The charge of mischief can often be used as a catch-all offence by law enforcement, as the offence covers a wide variety of public-disturbance related violations. The offences that can trigger a mischief charge can range from tagging to mischief that causes danger to the safety and well being of others. It is important to know that mischief that causes damage exceeding $5,000, or mischief related to properties of cultural or religious significance are taken more seriously by the law.

Mischief is defined in the Canadian Criminal Code s. 430 as:

(1) Every one commits mischief who wilfully

(a) destroys or damages property;

(b) renders property dangerous, useless, inoperative or ineffective;

(c) obstructs, interrupts or interferes with the lawful use, enjoyment or operation of property

or

(d) obstructs, interrupts or interferes with any person in the lawful use, enjoyment or operation of property

 

Robbery

Robbery

Robbery is considered the act of using violence or threats to steal or extort from someone. It is considered a violent offence, and as such can result in severe consequences from the court. The severity of the crime can be significantly affected depending whether the person accused is alleged to have used a weapon or violence in the act of robbery. The severity of the charge can also increase significantly if the act of robbery was made at the direction of or in association with a criminal organization.

In cases of robbery involving a firearm, the minimum punishment is four years imprisonment. The different types of robbery can include everything from robberies targeting banks and businesses, home invasions, muggings and other types of theft involving confrontation with a victim.

Robbery is considered a serious crime. It is seen by the courts and law enforcement as a type of crime motivated by financial gain, at the cost of public safety. The most severe cases of robbery can result in a life sentence in prison. Our goal at Acumen Law Corporation is to ensure those accused of robbery are equipped with a successful defence. We want to help those accused of robbery successfully reintegrate back into society as productive citizens.

 

Theft

Theft

The law assesses the severity of a theft charge by the value of the property stolen. In Canada, theft of property with value exceeding $5,000 can result in a prison sentence of up to 10 years. Theft with a value under $5,000 can accompany imprisonment up to two years.

In general, the definition of theft is when a person uses fraud or otherwise takes something unlawfully from another person or entity. These types of crimes can range from crimes of opportunity such as shoplifting to serious breaches of trust. Different factors are considered by the courts in determining the punishment for a theft conviction. Some cases are taken more seriously.

For example, who someone stole from can be an aggravating factor. A theft that’s a crime of opportunity, for example grabbing an unattended wallet, may be seen differently from a theft involving stealing from an employer. Other types of theft involves breach of trust, such as a home-care nurse stealing from a patient, or an accountant or corporate officer misusing company money.

 

Sexual Assault

sex assault

Sexual assault is a banner offence with the intention of covering all offences that are sexual in nature. This means that a sexual assault charge can be made regardless if there was simply touching involved, or if the act involved intercourse.

The prosecution has several things to prove. First, the Crown must prove that the alleged victim of sexual assault did not consent to the act. It is up to the Crown to establish beyond reasonable doubt that consent was not given, otherwise the accused must be acquitted. If it’s established that consent was not given, the prosecution still has to prove that the act was sexual in nature.

When deciding whether an act constitutes sexual assault, the courts may assess the parts of the body touched, the nature of the contact, the situation that the contact occurred in, whether there were words or gestures exchanged, in addition to other factors. In some cases, there may be a disagreement as to whether consent was given. The judge must then decide who to believe. Even if the judge does not believe the accused, the court must still be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that a sexual assault occurred.

There are few other offences that can be as damaging to a person’s reputation as a sex assault. Offences might be as insignificant as a brush in an elevator. That’s why if you are being investigated for sexual assault, it is imperative to contact an experienced criminal lawyer immediately.