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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. S.C. – Vancouver Police Investigation

Charge: Assault.
Issue: Whether there was credible evidence that would meet the charge approval standard.
Result: Mr. Gauthier provided information to the investigating officer that led the investigator to conclude that our client was not chargeable with a criminal offence. No charge approved. No criminal record.

R. vs. C.K. – Richmond Provincial Court

Charges: Assault; Forcible Confinement (domestic).
Issue: Given the rehabilitative steps we were able to guide our through, whether it was in the public interest for our client to be sentenced to a criminal record.
Result: Mr. Gauthier was able to persuade Crown to proceed only on the assault charge and, after hearing Mr. Gauthier's submissions, the Court granted our client a conditional discharge. No criminal conviction.

R.M. vs. Superintendent of Motor Vehicles

Charge: 90 Day Immediate Roadside prohibition.
Issue: Whether the police report established, on balance, that our client had refused to provide a breath sample during a roadside impaired driving investigation.
Result: The adjudicator agreed with Mr. Mines' submissions that our client's evidence was more reliable than the evidence set out in the Police Report to the Superintendent. The 90 day driving prohibition was overturned and our client was ruled eligible to resume driving.

R. vs. E.W. – Fort Nelson Provincial Court

Charge: Assault (domestic).
Issue: Whether there was a substantial likelihood of a criminal conviction.
Result: Upon reviewing the allegations, Mr. Mines made representations to Crown counsel resulting in Crown agreeing that there was no reasonable prospect of convicting our client. No charges were approved. No criminal record.

R. vs. H.K. – Vancouver Provincial Court

Charges: Assault Peace Officer; Mischief Under $5000.
Issue: Whether it was in the public interest to proceed with criminal charges.
Result: Mr. Gauthier was able to  persuade Crown counsel to allow our client into the Alternative Measures Program and to enter a stay of proceedings on both charges upon our client completing the program. No criminal record.

R. vs. R.S. – Richmond Provincial Court

Charge: Breach of Probation (from weapons charge).
Issue: Whether there was a public interest in proceeding with the prosecution of our client who had failed to complete a course of court ordered counselling.
Result: Mr. Gauthier was able to steer our client through an equivalent course of counselling. Upon completion, Crown counsel stayed the proceedings. No criminal record.

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

Charge: Mischief Causing Danger to Life.
Issue: Given the medical evidence Mr. Gauthier provided to Crown counsel, whether it was in the public interest to proceed with the criminal prosecution.
Result: Mr. Gauthier was able to persuade Crown counsel to enter a stay of proceedings. No criminal record.

R. vs. R.A. – Vancouver Provincial Court

Charges: Breaking & Entering; Unlawful Confinement; Assault.
Issue: Whether it was in the public interest for the prosecution to continue against our client, a U.S. citizen who was in Canada on a visitor's visa.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to persuade Crown counsel to enter a stay of proceedings on all charges upon our client agreeing to a Deportation Order. No criminal record.

R. vs. P.N. – Surrey Provincial Court

Charge: Dangerous Driving Causing Death. Issue: Whether Crown could prove that our client had the necessary intent to prove that she was guilty of the criminal charge. Result: Mr. Mines was able to persuade Crown counsel to proceed under the Motor Vehicle Act rather than the Criminal Code. After hearing Mr. Mines'  submissions, the Court sentenced our client to 60 days to be served on weekends. The Crown had originally sought a sentence in the range of 2 years.

R. vs. L.A. – New Westminster Provincial Court

Charge: Breach of Probation (from domestic assault charge).
Issue: Whether it was in the public interest to prosecute our client for failing to report and complete counselling.
Result: Mr. Gauthier was able to guide our client back onto an alternative course of rehabilitation and persuaded Crown counsel to enter a stay of proceedings. No criminal conviction.

R. vs. M.K. – Richmond Provincial Court

Charges: Uttering Threats; Extortion.
Issue: Given the age of the charges and the rehabilitative steps our client had taken, whether a jail sentence was appropriate.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to persuade Crown counsel to seek a non custodial sentence. After hearing Mr. Mines' submissions, the Court granted our client a suspended sentence and placed him on probation for 16 months. No jail.

R. vs. K.A. – Western Communities Provincial Court

Charge: Assault (domestic).
Issues: Given the information we provided to Crown counsel regarding the complainant's past unlawful behaviour toward our client, whether there was a substantial likelihood of a conviction.
Result: As a result of the information we provided, Crown counsel withdrew the charge. No further bail restrictions. 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.