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Hit and Run Charges

The Charge

People can be charged under s. 252 of the Criminal Code or s. 68 of the Motor Vehicle Act with failing to remain at the scene of an accident. When involved in an accident, drivers have a duty to provide their name and address and to offer assistance to any person that may be injured. Failure to do so can result in a criminal conviction and imprisonment for up to five years, even if there is no injury. If there is bodily harm, the maximum jail sentence is 10 years; if there is death, a hit and run driver faces up to 14 years in jail. In addition to any other punishment, the Crown will generally seek a significant driving prohibition upon any hit and run conviction.

Civil Liability – ICBC

In addition to any sentence imposed by the court, when drivers are convicted of the criminal offence of failure to remain at the scene of an accident, they face civil consequences. An essential condition of an ICBC insurance policy is that the coverage is voided if the driver is convicted of a criminal offence while driving. In the case of a very serious accident, this could leave a person convicted of hit and run exposed to a recovery action by ICBC for thousands or even millions of dollars.

The Investigation

At some point in virtually every accident case that involves injury to a person or damage to property, police will investigate in an effort to locate and identify the driver. Being in an accident can induce muddled thinking and even panic. Sometimes drivers reflexively keep driving after they have collided with a person or object. At other times, drivers are not sure whether they have, in fact, collided with a person or thing and they leave too quickly before identifying themselves and speaking to others who were involved with or who may have witnessed the accident. Police who investigate hit and run accidents will focus on trying to identify the vehicle and/or driver. They will canvas the accident scene in an effort to obtain witness statements and any available video or camera images. At times, police will produce a composite sketch or computer generated likeness of their suspect based on these witness accounts.

Recent Successes

R. vs. M.P. – ICBC insurance fraud investigation.

Charge: Insurance fraud.
Issue: Whether it was in the public interest to proceed with a criminal prosecution.
Result: Mr. Gauthier was able to steer our client through the investigation by helping our client rectify the fraudulent information that he had provided to I.C.B.C. No charges approved. No criminal record.

R. vs. S.B. – Port Coquitlam Provincial Court

Charges: Assault Causing Bodily Harm; Assault Police Officer.
Issue: Given our client's severe mental health issues, whether he was criminally responsible for the offences.
Result: Mr. Gauthier was able to provide information about our client's mental health history to Crown counsel and, ultimately, was able to persuade Crown to end the prosecution. Stay of proceedings. No jail. No criminal record.

R. vs. J.H. – Vancouver Provincial Court

Charge: Mischief Under $5000.,br> Issue: Whether it was in the public interest to proceed with a criminal prosecution.
Result: Mr. Gauthier provided information about our client to Crown counsel and was able to persuade Crown that there was no public interest in prosecuting this matter. No charge approved. No criminal record.

R. vs. B.C. – Vancouver Provincial Court

Charge: Mischief Under $5000.
Issue: Whether it was in the public interest to proceed with a criminal prosecution.
Result: Mr. Gauthier provided information about our client to Crown counsel and was able to persuade Crown that there was no public interest in prosecuting this matter. No charge approved. No criminal record.

R. vs. W.F. – Richmond Provincial Court

Charge: Assault.
Issue: Whether this road rage incident was a criminal offence or a consensual fight.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to present Crown counsel with video evidence which confirmed that the complainant had engaged in a consensual altercation. Stay of proceedings. No criminal record.

R. vs. K.Y. – Surrey Provincial Court

Charge: Assault Causing Bodily Harm.
Issue: Whether the 18 month jail sentence Crown had sought was reasonable in all the circumstances.
Result: Mr. Johnson provided information to the Crown and Court and ultimately persuaded the trial judge to sentence our client to a 7 month conditional sentence , followed ny 18 months probation. No jail.

R. vs. G.W. – North Vancouver RCMP Investigation

Charge: Assault with a weapon.
Issue: Whether there was sufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able collect information from a defence witness and represent to police that our client should not  be prosecuted. Police concluded their investigation without recommending any criminal charge against our client. No criminal record.

R. vs. J.S. – Vancouver Provincial Court

Charge: Assault with a Weapon.
Issue: Given the rehabilitative steps we directed our client to complete, whether it was in the public interest to proceed with the criminal prosecution.
Result: Mr. Gauthier was able to persuade Crown counsel to not approve any charge prior to the scheduled first court appearance. No criminal record.

R. vs. S.L. – Port Coquitlam Provincial Court

Charges: Possession of a loaded prohibited firearm; Unlawful storage of firearms.
Issue: Whether the warrant used to search our client's premises was lawful; whether our client posed a risk to re-offend.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to point to potential flaws in the warrant and police search which culminated in Crown's agreement to not pursue their original sentencing position of a 2-3 year jail sentence. Rather, the court accepted a joint submission of a 12 month conditional sentence with a curfew for the first six months. No jail.

R. vs. M.K.A. – Vancouver Provincial Court

Charges: Assault with a Weapon (x2).
Issue: Whether it was in the public interest for the court to grant our client a conditional discharge.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to direct our client through a course of rehabilitative counselling, and after hearing Mr. Mines' submissions, the trial judge granted our client a conditional discharge. No criminal conviction.

R. vs. K.D. – Vancouver Provincial Court

Charges: Assault (domestic).
Issue: Given the rehabilitative steps that we were able to guide our client through, whether there was a public interest in continuing with the prosecution.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to persuade Crown counsel to amend the bail condition to allow "permissive contact" with the complainant, and after providing Crown with a report from our client's psychologist Crown counsel ended the prosecution. Stay of proceedings. No criminal record.

R. vs. J.L. – Vancouver Provincial Court

Charges: Sexual assault; Unlawful Confinement; Assault by Choking.
Issue: Given the impact of the additional evidence that Mr. Johnson provided to Crown counsel, whether there was a substantial likelihood of a conviction.
Result: Crown counsel agreed that the new evidence significantly undermined the strength of the case.  Crown counsel entered a stay of proceedings, bringing the prosecution to an end. No jail. No criminal record.

The Defence

We see a significant number of clients who contact us after an incident where they believe police may be looking for them as a suspected hit and run driver. We are experienced in acting as a “buffer” between our client and police in these situations. This is because we are able to protect our client through the laws of solicitor/client privilege. This means that we can speak to police on our client’s behalf without incriminating our client. We often are, effectively, able to assist our client with their civil obligations involved in dealing with ICBC or other insurers without our client providing direct evidence that would strengthen the Crown’s case against them. In a nutshell, Hit and Run driving defences are aimed at controlling the misinformation police are seeking from our client. We are able to do so by relying on concepts such as the “right to remain silent” and other guarantees of fundamental justice as set out in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

We defend hit and run charges at trial by identifying areas of the Crown’s case that are weak and tend not to prove that our client was, in fact, the driver, or that they knew they were involved in an accident. We are experienced in defending driving charges and know how to protect our client’s rights when they are being investigated or charged with a hit and run offence.

Start with a free consultation.

If you are being investigated by police or if you’ve been charged with a criminal or driving offence, don’t face the problem alone. Being accused of an offence is stressful. The prospects of a criminal record or jail sentence can be daunting. Even if you think there is no defence, we may be able to help. To schedule a free initial consultation with one of our Vancouver lawyers, contact us now.