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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. J.T. - Surrey Provincial Court

Charges: Assault; Resist /Obstruct Police.
Issue: Whether there was a substantial likelihood of a conviction and whether there was a public interest in proceeding with the charges.
Result: Mr. Johnson provided Crown with additional information regarding the alleged facts of the assault complaint and the excessive force used by police in arresting our client.  Ultimately Mr. Johnson persuaded Crown counsel to stay the proceedings on both charges. No criminal record.

R. vs. J.M. - Vancouver Provincial Court

Charge: Assault Causing Bodily Harm.
Issue: Whether it was in the public interest for our client to receive a conviction on this charge.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to persuade the Court to grant our client a conditional discharge. No conviction.

R. vs. T.A. - Vancouver Provincial Court

Charge: Commit Indecent Act.
Issue: Whether it was appropriate for Crown to proceed with the charge.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to present information on our client's behalf and was able to persuade Crown counsel that there was no longer any public interest in proceeding with this matter. Stay of proceedings. Warrant cancelled. No criminal record.

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

Charge: Driving While Prohibited.
Issue: Whether it was in the public interest to proceed with the charge.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to persuade Crown to proceed on the lesser offence of driving without a valid licence. Rather than a mandatory minimum 12 month driving prohibition, our client was sentenced to a $300 fine and a 3 month prohibition.

R. vs. L.W. - North Vancouver Provincial Court

Charge: Criminal Harassment (reduced to Peace Bond).
Issue: Whether it was in the public interest for Crown to prosecute our client on the criminal harassment charge;
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to persuade Crown to stay the criminal charge upon our client entering into a s. 810 Peace Bond for 12 months. No criminal record.

R. vs. K.M. - Surrey RCMP Investigation

Charge: Sexual Assault.
Issue: Whether there was sufficient evidence to meet the Crown's charge approval standard.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to steer our client through the investigation and was able to provide information to police and Crown which culminated in Crown counsel's decision to not approve any charges. No criminal record.

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

Charge: Driving While Prohibited.
Issue: Whether it was in the public interest for Crown to proceed with the charge.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to persuade Crown to allow our client to plead to s. 24(1) of the Motor Vehicle Act. Rather than the mandatory minimum 12 month driving prohibition, our client was sentenced to a $300 fine and a two month driving prohibition.

R. vs. K.K. - North Vancouver Provincial Court

Charges: Sexual Assault x2; Sexual Interference.
Issue: Given the extensive information that we were able to provide to Crown counsel, whether there remained a substantial likelihood of a conviction.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to persuade Crown counsel to enter a stay of proceedings on all counts. No jail. No criminal record.

R. vs. C.F. - Port Coquitlam Provincial Court

Charge: Assault (reduced to s. 810 Peace Bond).
Issue: Given the rehabilitative steps we were able to guide our client through, whether it was appropriate for Crown to proceed.
Result: Mr. Mines was first able to persuade Crown to proceed on a Peace Bond application rather than the criminal assault charge. He was then able to persuade Crown to withdraw its Peace Bond application. No criminal record.

R. vs. T.K.- Abbotsford Provincial Court

Charge: Driving without consideration; driving past police vehicle; speeding.
Issue: Whether it was in the public interest to proceed with all counts, which upon conviction would have led to a driving prohibition.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to negotiate a resolution where our client pleaded guilty to only a three point speeding ticket and police withdrew the remaining counts. Our client was sentenced to a fine. No driving prohibition.

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

Charge: Assault.
Issue: Given the rehabilitative steps we were able to guide our client through, whether it was in the public interest for our client to receive a criminal conviction.
Result: After hearing Mr. Johnson's submissions on our client's behalf, the court granted our client a conditional discharge. No criminal conviction.

R. vs. J.D. - Vancouver Provincial Court

Charge: Driving while Prohibited.
Issue: Whether it was in the public interest to proceed with this charge which carries a one year mandatory minimum driving prohibition.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to persuade Crown counsel to permit our client to resolve this matter by pleading guilty to the lesser offence of driving without a valid licence. Our client was sentenced to a fine. No driving prohibition.

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.