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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. v. J.F. – Dawson Creek Provincial Court

Charge: Sexual Assault.
Issue: The credibility of the complainant's testimony during this three day trial.
Result: After vigorous cross examination of the complainant and another Crown eyewitness, Mr. Gauthier made submissions which were accepted by the trial judge. The court found our client to be not guilty and aquitted him of the charge. No jail. No criminal record.

R. vs. D.C. – Port Coquitlam Provincial Court

Charges: Sexual Assault (x2).
Issue: In the circumstances of these historic charges and our client's rehabilitation, whether a community based sentence was appropriate.
Result: Notwithstanding that Crown counsel sought a 20 month jail sentence, the trial judge agreed with Mr. Mines' submission that, in the circumstances of our client's genuine remorse and rehabilitation, it was appropriate to  grant a conditional sentence of 21 months. No jail.

R. vs. G.S. – North Vancouver Provincial Court

Charge: Assault (domestic).
Issue: Given the rehabilitative steps we were able to guide our client through, whether it was in the public interest to continue with the prosecution.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to persuade Crown counsel to enter a stay of proceedings, brining the matter to an end. No criminal record.

B.G. – Vancouver Provincial Court

Charge: Theft/Fraud Over $5000 (from employer).
Issue: Given the self rehabilitation and civil settlement made by our client, whether a non-custodial sentence was appropriate in this $60,000 theft from employer case.
Result: Mr. Gauthier was able to persuade the Court that the appropriate sentence was an 18 month community-based sentence with 6 months of house arrest. No jail.

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

Charge: Assault (domestic).
Issue: Given the rehabilitative steps we were able to guide our client through, whether it was in the public interest for Crown counsel to continue the prosecution.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to provide new information to Crown and was ultimately able to persuade Crown to enter a stay of proceedings. No criminal record.

R. vs. S.L. – Insurance Fraud Investigation

Charge: Fraud Over $5000.
Issue: Given our client's settlement of the fraud claim by paying funds back on a "without prejudice" basis, whether it was in the public interest to proceed with a criminal prosecution.
Result: Mr. Gauthier was able to persuade the investigator to not forward any report for charge assessment. No charges were approved. No criminal record.

R. vs. K.A. – Surrey Provincial Court

Charge: Assault Causing Bodily Harm.
Issue: Whether the complainant and the Crown witnesses gave reliable and crdible evidence at trial.
Result: After vigorous cross examination, the trail judge accepted Mr. Gauthier's submissions that Crown counsel had failed to prove its case. Not guilty verdict. No criminal record.

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

Charge: Assault (domestic).
Issue: Whether the information police provided to Crown counsel would cause Crown to conclude there was a substantial likelihood of obtaining a conviction.
Result: Mr. Mines provided information to Crown on our client's behalf. He was able to persuade Crown that our client was in fact the victim of an assault and was acting in self defence. No charges were approved. No criminal record.

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

Charges: Criminal Harassment (domestic).
Issue: Whether our client's mental state was such that Crown counsel could prove that she had the necessary level of intent to be convicted of a criminal offence.
Result: Mr. Gauthier was able to provide our client's medical documentation to Crown which resulted in Crown deciding not to proceed with the prosecution. Stay of proceedings. No criminal record.

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

Charges: Driving while prohibited (MVA).
Issue: Whether the delay in approving the charge was relevant to our client's right to a speedy trial.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to persuade Crown counsel to proceed on the lesser offence of driving without a valid driver's licence. Rather than a 12 month driving prohibition and 10 penalty points, our client was sentenced to a 3 month driving prohibition and received only 3 penalty points.

R. vs. Q.B. – North Vancouver RCMP investigation

Charges: Sexual assault.
Issue: Whether or not the acts complained of were consensual or not, and whether it was in the public interest to proceed with a criminal prosecution.
Result: Mr. Mines provided further information to th einvestigator on our client's behalf that ultimately led to police declining to recommend any criminal charges. No charge was approved. No criminal record.

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

Charges: Assult (domestic).
Issue: Given the rehabilitative steps we were able to guide our client through, whether it was in the public interest for Crown counsel to continue the criminal prosecution.
Result: Based on the information Mr. Mines provide regarding our client, Crown directed a stay of proceedings bringing the matter to an end. No criminal record.

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.