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Commercial Crime

The Charge

People charged with commercial crime are generally charged with Fraud over $5000 offences, pursuant to s. 380 of the Criminal Code. Commercial crime offences may includes offences contrary to the Bankruptcy Act, the British Columbia Securities Act or the British Columbia Insurance (Vehicle) Act. Over the years our firm has defended clients charged with bankruptcy fraud, counterfeiting and insurance fraud. Depending on the scale of the fraud, Crown counsel often seeks significant jail time for commercial crime offences. Often, there is a breach of trust element to commercial crime charges. When an employee or business partner is accused of using their position of trust to commit an offence, Crown will rely on s. 718 of the Criminal Code which deems breach of trust to be an “aggravating circumstance” which can increase the sentence of a person convicted of a commercial crime offence.

The Investigation

All cases are unique, but in the majority of commercial crime cases the suspect is confronted with an investigator working for the organization that claims to have been victimized. Typically, this is an official from the BC Securities Commission, the bank or the insurance company. Because this is not yet a police investigation, the suspect is not usually advised of their rights under the Charter to be able to immediately contact a lawyer or to remain silent. It is certainly not uncommon for people in this situation to be tempted to explain themselves and they often end up making some incriminating statements. We certainly advise anyone who has been confronted with an accusation of commercial crime to call our office for advice at the earliest opportunity possible.

A person accused of a commercial crime offence often faces the pressure of both a criminal charge and a civil action being taken by the Securities Commission, bank, insurance company or other body. It is certainly prudent to obtain legal advice from counsel that has experience defending these types of charges.

Recent Successes

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

Charge: Driving While Prohibited.
Issue: Whether it was appropriate for Crown counsel to proceed on this charge, which carries a mandatory minimum 12 month driving prohibition.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to persuade Crown to proceed on the lesser offence of driving without a valid driver's licence. After hearing Mr. johnson's submissions, the court imposed a $500 fine. No driving prohibition.

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

Charge: Assault Causing Bodily Harm.
Issue: Given the rehabilitative steps our client had taken, whether it was in the public interest to proceed with the criminal charge.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to persuade Crown counsel to stay the criminal charge. Our client entered into a Peace Bond for a period of 9 months. No criminal record.

R. vs. Z.H. - Port Coquitlam Youth Court

Charge: Assault Causing Bodily Harm.
Issue: Whether, given the history between our client and the complainant, it was reasonable for our client apply  the level of force he used.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to persuade Crown to not approve any criminal charge but, rather, to resolve the matter through Restorative Justice. No criminal record.

Y.Y. vs. Superintendent of Motor Vehicles - Review of Driving Prohibition

Charge: Notice of Intent to Prohibit.
Issue: Whether RoadSafety BC had appropriate reasons to prohibit our client from driving for 4 months.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to persuade the Superintendent's adjudicator that the 4 month driving prohibition was not warranted. The driving prohibition was reduced to 2 months.

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

Charges: Assault (x2); Threatening; Breach of Undertaking (domestic).
Issue: Given the rehabilitative steps our client had taken, whether it was appropriate for the Court to convict him.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to persuade Crown to proceed on only a single count of assault. After hearing Mr. Mines' submissions, the Court granted our client a conditional discharge. No criminal conviction.  

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

Charges: Dangerous Driving Causing Bodily Harm; Driving Without Due Care and Attention.
Issue: Whether it was appropriate for Crown to charge our client under the Criminal Code or the Motor Vehicle Act in regard to an accident where our client's vehicle struck a cyclist from behind, causing serious injury.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to provide information to Crown which resulted in Crown proceeding under the Motor Vehicle Act. After hearing Mr. Mines' submissions, the Court sentenced our client to a $1000 fine and limited his ability to drive for 12 months. No criminal conviction. No loss of insurance coverage. No jail.

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

Charge: s. 810 Peace Bond Application.
Issue: Given the rehabilitative steps our client had taken, whether the complainant continued to have fear of our client.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to persuade Crown counsel to withdraw its Peace Bond application. No conditions. No record.

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

Charge: Fraud Over $5000 (from employer).
Issue: Given the rehabilitative steps our client had completed and given the compelling explanation of why the offence occurred, whether it was in the public interest for our client to recieve a conviction.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to persuade the Crown to proceed summarily on the lesser offence of Fraud Under $5000, and after hearing Mr. Johnson's submission, the court granted our client an absolute discharge. No criminal record.

R. vs. R.G. - Vancouver Provincial Court

Charge: Assault.
Issue: Whether there was substantial likelihood of a conviction in this “road rage” assault case.
Result: Mr. Johnson provided information to the Crown that suggested our client was acting in self defence. No charge approved. No criminal record.

R. vs. R.R. - Vancouver Provincial Court

Charge: Theft Over $5000.
Issue: Given the steps taken by our client to repay a substantial amount of the alleged $70,000 theft from his employer, whether it was in the public interest for the Crown to pursue a jail sentence that, given the breach of trust, would normally be called for.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to persuade Crown counsel that they could only prove theft in the amount of $40,000. He was then able to persuade Crown to proceed summarily on 8 counts of Theft Under $5000 and to make a joint submission for a conditional sentence. After hearing Mr. Mines’ submissions, the court granted our client a 6 month conditional sentence and made a stand alone restitution order. No jail.

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

Charge: Assault with a Weapon; Assault Causing Bodily Harm.
Issue: Given the rehabilitative steps Mr. Johnson was able to steer our client through, whether our client would be convicted of the offences.
Result: After hearing Mr. Johnson’s submissions on our client’s behalf, the Judge granted our client a conditional discharge. No conviction; no criminal record.

UBC Independent Investigations Office vs. B.F.

Charge: Sexual Assault.
Issue: Whether the complainant could prove her allegation of being sexually assaulted.
Result: Mr. Johnson provided information to the investigator on our client’s behalf, and at the conclusion of the hearing, the allegation was dismissed.

The Defence

Clients that contact us early in the investigation (before charges are forwarded to police) have the best chance of obtaining the best result – the chance of no charge being approved at all. In our many years of practicing criminal law, we’ve learned that many complainants are primarily interested in recovering their losses through civil means rather than pursuing criminal charges. In such cases – and even in cases where charges have been approved – our goal is to try and obtain a civil settlement which involves our client making civil restitution to the complainant in exchange for obtaining a release for any further civil liability.

In some cases, in the face of strong Crown evidence, we have no alternative but to go to trial to defend our client. Often, commercial crime cases involve complex issues in the law of evidence. We are well versed in the various laws that involve search warrants, production orders and the various Canada Evidence Act provisions involving the rules Crown must comply with when they want to introduce banking records, business records, or any other documentary evidence. Our experience allows us to develop arguments at trial which are aimed at protecting our clients’ rights to be treated to a fair trial as guaranteed by the Charter.

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.