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.
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.