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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.A. - Vancouver Provincial Court

Charges: Personation, Use of Forged Identity Documents, Resist Arrest.
Issue: Whether the search and seizure of the documents was an unlawful Charter breach.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to persuade Crown and the Court that, in all the circumstances, it was in the public interest to grant our client a conditional discharge without any reporting condition. 

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

Charges: Assault with a Weapon; Assault Causing Bodily Harm (domestic).
Issue: Whether there was a substantial likelihood of a conviction and whether it was in the public interest to proceed.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to convince Crown counsel to enter a stay of proceedings just prior to the trial date. No criminal record.

R. vs. J.B. - ICBC Fraud Investigation

Charge: Theft Under$5000.
Issue: Whether there was a public interest in approving the charge.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to persuade Crown counsel that there was no public interest in approving any charge whatsoever. No criminal record.

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

Charge: Assault (domestic).
Issue: Whether it was appropriate for our client to be granted a conditional discharge.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to persuade the trial judge to grant our client a conditional discharge rather than the conviction that Crown counsel was seeking. No criminal record.

R. v. M.P. - Vancouver Provincial Court

Charge: Theft Under$5000.
Issue: Whether there was a public interest in approving the charge.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to persuade Crown counsel that there was no public interest in approving any charge whatsoever. No criminal record.

R. vs. O.A. - Surrey Provincial Court

Charge: Assault (domestic). Issue: Given the lack of clarity…

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

strong>Charges: Sexual Assault; Assault; Theft Under; Breach of Undertaking.
Issue: Given our client's circumstances and the circumstances of the allegations, whether it was in the public interest for Crown to proceed with all charges.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to persuade Crown counsel to proceed only on the assault charge and to stay proceedings on all other charges. After considering Mr. mines' submissions, the Court granted our client a conditional discharge and placed him on probation for 12 months. No criminal conviction.

R. vs. V.P. - Vancouver Provincial Court

Charges: Assault with a Weapon; Assault Police Officer.
Issue: Given some weakness in the assault with weapon charge and the rehabilitative steps our client had taken, whether it was appropriate for the Crown to seek the jail sentence they were originally seeking.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to persuade Crown counsel to enter a stay of proceedings on the AWW charge and to jointly seek a conditional discharge on the assault police officer charge. No jail. No criminal conviction.

R. vs. S.K. - Surrey Provincial Court

Charges: Fraud Over $5000 (from Employer).
Issue: Given the civil settlement  we were able to obtain on our client's behalf, whether it was in the public interest to proceed with criminal charges.
Result: Mr. Johnson, after successfully negotiating a civil settlement with the complainant, was able to persuade Crown counsel to not approve the criminal charges that RCMP had recommended. No jail. No criminal record.

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

Charges: Impaired Driving; Driving Over .08.
Issue: Whether it was in the public interest for Crown counsel to proceed with the criminal charges.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to persuade Crown to allow our client to resolve this matter by pleading guilty to a lesser offence under the Motor Vehicle Act. Our client received a driving prohibition and fine. No criminal record.

R. v. S.W. - Courtenay RCMP Investigation

Charges: Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking.
Issue: Whether the search of the vehicle and our client was lawful.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to steer our client through the investigation and made representations to police that the search was unlawful. Police declined to recommend any  charges. No criminal record.

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.

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.