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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. A.N. - Vancouver Provincial Court

Charges: Assault with a Weapon.
Issue: Given the rehabilitative steps we guided our client through, whether it was in the public interest for Crown to seek a conviction on this charge.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to persuade Crown to permit our client to plead to the lesser offence of common assault. After hearing Mr. Johnson's submissions, the court granted our client a conditional discharge. No criminal conviction.

R. vs. J.J. - Richmond Provincial Court

Charges: Assault Causing Bodily Harm.
Issue: Whether there was a substantial likelihood of  the Crown being able to prove that bodily harm occurred.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to persuade Crown to permit our client to plead to the lesser offence of common assault. After hearing Mr. Johnson's submissions, the court granted our client a conditional discharge. No criminal conviction.

R. vs. S.W. - Vancouver Provincial Court

Charge: Assault (domestic).
Issue: Given that the complainant had instigated the altercation, whether it was in the public interest for our client to be convicted of the offence.
Result: We were able to guide our client through a course of rehabilitation and, after hearing Mr. Mines' submissions, the Court granted our client a conditional discharge and placed him on a non-reporting probation order for six months. No criminal conviction.

R. vs. S.W. - Richmond Provincial Court

Charge: Refusing to comply with a testing demand.
Issue: Given the circumstances of the offence and our client, whether it was in the public interest to proceed with the criminal prosecution.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to persuade Crown counsel to proceed on the lesser Motor Vehicle Act offence of driving without due care. Rather than a criminal conviction and a minimum 12 month driving prohibition, our client was liable to pay a $350 fine and a 2 month driving prohibition. No criminal record.

R. vs. H.S. - North Vancouver Provincial Court

Charge: Driving While Prohibited.
Issue: Given the circumstances of the offence and our client, whether it was necessary for Crown to proceed with the driving while prohibited charge, which carries a mandatory minimum 12 month driving prohibition.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to persuade Crown to proceed on the lesser Motor Vehicle Act charge of driving without a driver's licence. After hearing Mr. Johnson's submissions our client was sentenced to a fine and a 4 month driving prohibition.

R. vs. J.S. - North Vancouver Provincial Court

Charge: Assault Causing Bodily Harm (domestic).
Issue: Whether the Crown could prove that bodily harm resulted and, whether the rehabilitative steps our client had taken justified the Court granting a conditional discharge.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to persuade Crown counsel to proceed on the charge of common assault. After hearing Mr. Mines' submissions, the Court granted our client a conditional discharge. No criminal conviction.

R. vs. C.M. - North Vancouver Provincial Court

Charge: Assault; Threatening.
Issue: Whether there was a substantial likelihood of conviction in this alleged "road rage" case.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to provide information to Crown counsel on our client's behalf that led Crown to conclude there was no substantial likelihood of conviction. No charge approved. No criminal record.

R. vs. M.D. - North Vancouver Provincial Court

Charges: Theft Under $5000; Uttering Threats.
Issue: Whether, given our client's circumstances and remorse, whether it was in the public interest for criminal charges to proceed.
Result: We were able to provide information to police investigators which resulted in police deciding to not forward any charges to Crown. No criminal record.

R. vs. H.L. - Richmond Provincial Court

Charge: Sexual Assault.
Issue: Whether there was a substantial likelihood of a conviction.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to provide information to the Crown on our client's behalf that persuaded Crown that the case did not meet the charge approval standard. No charge was approved. No criminal record.

R. vs. S.F. - Provincial Court of Newfoundland

Charge: Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking (Marijuana).
Issue: Whether it there was a substantial likelihood of obtaining a conviction.
Result: Upon considering Mr. Johnson's representations, Crown counsel concluded that there was no longer a likelihood of conviction. Crown withdrew the charge, bringing the matter to an end. No criminal record.

R. vs. M.B. - Surrey Provincial Court

Charge: Application for firearms prohibition and forfeiture.
Issue: Whether Crown could establish that our client posed a risk to himself or others.
Result: Mid trial, Mr. Mines was able to obtain a successful resolution in which our client consented to an 18 month prohibition rather than the 5 years Crown had been seeking.  Further, rather than having to forfeit the  $15,000 worth of weapons that police seized,  Crown agreed to allow our client to sell them to a suitable buyer.

R. vs. C.B. - Vancouver Police Investigation

Charge: Possession of proceeds of crime.
Issue: Whether there was any lawful authority to arrest our client and seize funds from him.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to persuade the investigating officer that there was no basis to search our client and to return the $2400 cash that he had seized. No charges approved. Not 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.