Intimidation of a Justice System Participant

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Intimidation of a Justice System Participant 2020-10-08T19:25:50+00:00

Your Guide to Intimidation of a Justice System Participant Charges by Defence Lawyers in Kelowna

What is Intimidation of a Justice System Participant?

Intimidation of a justice system participant is an offence intended to maintain the integrity of the justice system and ensure that those involved in it are protected from outside threats and pressure. The victims of this offence can be members of the public, justice system participants, or journalists.

The provision for intimidation of a justice system participant or journalist in the Canadian Criminal Code is:

Kelowna Intimidation of a Justice System Participant

“Justice system participants” can include:

  • Members of any branch of government;
  • Anyone who plays a role in the administration of criminal justice, such as
    • Ministers,
    • Lawyers,
    • Judges and Justices,
    • Members or potential members of a jury,
    • Confidential informants,
    • Witnesses,
    • Peace officers or any members of a police force, and
    • Anyone employed in court administration.

There are many different ways in which this offence may be committed, including instilling fear in any of the following groups of people, for the following reasons:

  • Members of the general public with the intention of impeding the administration of criminal justice,
  • A participant in the justice system, in order to make the performance of their duties more difficult, or
  • A journalist, in order to prevent them from distributing information to the public about a criminal organization.

To be convicted, the Crown must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intended to promote a state of fear in a journalist, justice system participant, or member of the public, in order to impede the administration of justice/prevent them from doing their job/limit the dissemination of information about a criminal organization.

Investigation of Intimidation of a Justice System Participant Charges in Kelowna

This offence is taken extremely seriously by the police and by the Crown. An investigation of an allegation of intimidation of a justice system participant or journalist in Kelowna is typically initiated by a complaint from an alleged victim of intimidation, or a witness. The police will attend the scene and request a written statement from the alleged victim or any other witness, then will launch an investigation.

The investigation may include interviewing all witnesses, reviewing any video surveillance, seizing any evidence involved, photographing the scene, and obtaining medical records, if relevant.

After the police have gathered their evidence, they will arrest you if they believe you are the perpetrator. If you are not present at the scene, police will track you down or issue a warrant for your arrest. Police may then decide to charge you immediately, or they may transport you to the Police District Office for further questioning and processing, before deciding whether or not to lay charges. You will likely be given the opportunity to speak to a lawyer before being questioned; you should exercise your right to obtain this legal advice.

After you have been charged, police will provide a package with all the evidence they collected, known as the “disclosure package,” to the Crown Prosecutor. You will have the right to access this disclosure package to see the evidence against you. Once you retain one of our lawyers, we will assist you in obtaining the disclosure package, and we will review it with you to assess the strengths and weaknesses in the Crown’s case, as well as any legal defences that may be available to you.

Bail Process and Conditions for Intimidation of a Justice System Participant Charges in Kelowna

How do I get myself or a loved one out on bail for intimidation of a justice system participant charges in Kelowna?

Because of the severity of the offence, if you have been charged with intimidation of a justice system participant, the Crown will likely push for you to be detained, requiring a formal bail hearing to be released. You can expect to be detained especially if you have a criminal record, or if the allegations are more serious.

The bail hearing must be held within 24 hours, a period that starts from the moment of arrest or detention rather than the time when you are brought to the district office or Courthouse.

On a weekday, you will be transferred from the district office to the Kelowna Courthouse for your bail hearing. The address of the Courthouse is as follows:

Kelowna Courthouse
1355 Water Street
Kelowna BC V1Y 9R3
(250) 470-6900

If you are arrested after approximately 3 p.m., you will be held at the detachment until the following morning, at which time you will be transported to the Courthouse for your bail hearing. Your hearing will be conducted in front of a Provincial Court Judge.

If you are arrested on Friday after approximately 3 p.m., or if you are arrested on a weekend, your bail hearing will be conducted at the detachment via telephone with a Justice of the Peace from the Justice Centre.

Loved ones are not able to contact you while you are detained. The police will not release any information to friends or family due to privacy laws. Your lawyer is the only person allowed to contact you. Once the police have verified your lawyer’s details, they will pass on information about your whereabouts, if requested.

Because of these difficulties while you are held in custody, it is best to appoint a competent defence lawyer as soon as possible to manage the legal processes and communicate with loved ones. After an arrest, the police must provide you with the opportunity to call a lawyer in private and, if that happens, stop questioning you.

Once you retain one of our experienced criminal defence lawyers, we will begin working to secure your release on bail. We will immediately do the following:

  1. Call in to the district office where you are being held, or the Kelowna Courthouse if you have been transported, and speak to you.
  2. Contact the Prosecutor assigned to the bail hearing to start negotiating your release.
  3. Order and secure a copy of the police information package that details the allegations against you in advance of the bail hearing. This allows the lawyer to make meaningful representations to the Court about why you should be released on bail.
  4. Conduct either an in-person or teleconference bail hearing to secure your release.

When you attend your bail hearing, the Judge will consider the following factors:

  • Is detention necessary to secure your attendance in court?
  • Is detention necessary to protect the public from a substantial risk of re-offence?
  • Is detention necessary in all the circumstances to maintain confidence in the administration of justice?

If you are released, you may face tight restrictions. Rest assured, we will work to not only secure your release but also to ensure the least restrictive set of bail conditions (including the minimum cash deposit).

In order for our lawyers to secure less stringent conditions, the Judge will need to be satisfied that you will attend court as required and that you pose no significant risk of harm to the public. This can be difficult in intimidation of a justice system participant cases because of the assumption that you will not respect court orders. However, it is not impossible.

Our lawyers are often successful at persuading the Crown Prosecutor in charge of bail to let our clients out. If we can’t convince the Prosecutor, we can conduct a formal bail hearing and work to convince the Court. Even if you are ultimately detained, we can appeal that decision on very short notice through a bail review, which is conducted at the Supreme Court of British Columbia.

Where can I pay for bail for intimidation of a justice system participant charges in Kelowna?

If you or a loved one are charged with intimidation of a justice system participant in Kelowna and granted bail, you may be required to provide a cash deposit to secure release. The cash deposit can be paid at any bail hearing office (courthouse) in British Columbia. If you live in Vancouver, you can pay bail there for someone detained in Kelowna.

The Kelowna court registry is open from 8:30 – 4:30, Monday to Friday. The contact details of the registry office at the Kelowna Courthouse are as follows:

Kelowna Courthouse
1355 Water Street
Kelowna BC V1Y 9R3
(250) 470-6900

To pay your own bail, you can make a payment after your hearing, assuming you have sufficient funds with you to do so.

How do I change my release conditions for intimidation of a justice system participant charges in Kelowna?

Release on bail for intimidation of a justice system participant charges may include restrictions that impact your day-to-day life. This could include conditions to refrain from:

  • Interacting with any alleged victim,
  • Attending the alleged victim’s home or place of work,
  • Leaving your house (i.e. house arrest),
  • Staying out beyond a certain time (i.e. curfew),
  • Breaking any laws,
  • Using drugs or alcohol,
  • Possessing weapons,
  • Visiting certain places, and/or
  • Travelling.

The Judge may also impose some additional conditions such as:

  • Attending counselling,
  • Residing where approved,
  • Reporting to probation, and/or
  • Maintaining or seeking employment.

A variety of factors will be considered when determining your precise restrictions, including:

  • Your criminal history,
  • Your physical and mental condition,
  • The nature of the alleged intimidation,
  • The likelihood that you will flee,
  • Your history of drug/alcohol usage,
  • Whether you have stable employment,
  • Whether you have stable living arrangements, and
  • Whether you have ties to the community.

If you have already been released, at least for the short term, it is critical that you make arrangements to abide by your conditions until they can be changed. Breaching the terms of your release can result in further charges or a revocation of your bail, as well as a forfeiture of any cash paid to secure your release. It is important to take these conditions seriously.

Once the matter is in court, we can work with the Crown Prosecutor to alter your conditions. This includes either adding exceptions to some of the conditions or eliminating them altogether.

If your court date is far away and you cannot wait until then, we can arrange to have the matter dealt with sooner. Our first priority is always to stabilize your release conditions. That way, you will not feel pressured to plead guilty because of the restrictive terms of your release. Once the conditions are manageable and minimally intrusive to your daily routine, we can focus 100% of our attention on defending the case.

Penalties for Intimidation of a Justice System Participant Charges in Kelowna

You can expect a significant penalty for intimidation of a justice system participant or journalist charges. This offence is straight indictable, meaning that the Crown and the Court take it very seriously, and punishments reflect that. Every person convicted of this offence can expect up to 14 years’ imprisonment.

In addition to the immediate penalties resulting from a conviction for intimidation of a justice system participant or journalist, it can have wide-ranging negative consequences on your future. You may have trouble securing employment, especially in roles that require working with children, the elderly, or other vulnerable sectors of society. The lifelong criminal record that results from a conviction can hinder immigration and travel. Finally, because of the nature of this offence, your friends and family may perceive you as unworthy of their trust, and it can heavily impact your reputation.

Therefore, even if you intend on accepting responsibility for this type of offence, it is worthwhile to explore your options and consider all the possible penalties. Often, good representation can result in no criminal record. Furthermore, a community-based sentence may be obtained even where the Crown is seeking jail time.

Rest assured, our lawyers will work hard to defend you so that you are not saddled with the consequences that stem from a criminal conviction for intimidation of a justice system participant. In fact, we can canvass a range of sentencing options with the Prosecutors that will either leave you with no criminal record or impose minimal restrictions on your liberty after sentencing. To learn more about potential non-criminal resolutions, please visit our Resolutions page, or read our FAQ on resolutions and other sentencing options

Kelowna Intimidation of a Justice System Participant Charges

Defending Intimidation of a Justice System Participant Charges in Kelowna

What are the best defences to intimidation of a justice system participant charges in Kelowna?

With such serious potential penalties following a conviction for intimidation of a justice system participant or journalist, it is important that you take your defence of these charges seriously. With this type of offence, the defences that may be available to you will depend on the facts of your case.

In general, the best defences for an intimidation of a justice system participant charge are:

  • Factual innocence: This is usually the strongest defence because the facts and the evidence do not support you being there, intimidating a justice system participant, or other basic elements of the offence.
  • Violation of constitutional rights: The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms sets out your rights before and after your arrest. If the police fail to abide by these rights, it could aid in your defence.
  • No intent to promote a state of fear: The Crown must prove that you intended to promote a state of fear within the alleged victim. Without this intent, you are lacking the requisite mental element of the offence, which will make it challenging to convict you.

The Crown must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intended to promote a state of fear in a journalist, justice system participant, or member of the public, in order to impede the administration of justice/prevent them from doing their job/limit the dissemination of information regarding a criminal organization. While the Crown must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the offence, you may bear some responsibility in raising certain defences at trial.

Our review may focus on some of the following issues:

  • Can the Crown prove that you committed the crime?
  • What was your intention in doing what you did?
  • Did you know the victim was a “justice system participant”?
  • Was any evidence against you obtained in a way that violated your constitutional rights?

The availability and strength of any defence depends entirely on the specific facts of your case. Our lawyers have significant experience assessing the availability and strengths of various potential defences in intimidation of a justice system participant cases, as well as presenting any and all available defences to the Court at trial. Even if you believe that you will be found guilty, it is important that you obtain a legal opinion about defences that may be available to you.

How can I help defend intimidation of a justice system participant charges in Kelowna?

If you have been charged with intimidation of a justice system participant or journalist in Kelowna, the following can help your lawyer build a strong defence:

  • Providing your lawyer with a detailed statement about what happened;
  • Collecting and maintaining all documents and records about the event;
  • Gathering a list of witnesses that may support your version of events, if applicable; and
  • Logging any relevant texts, emails, phone calls or photograph evidence.

As soon as you are released on bail, you should start to gather any information that may be of use to your lawyer. What information is relevant will depend on the facts in your case. If you are uncertain what information to collect, you should contact one of our lawyers immediately to create a plan of action.

If you are truly proactive about the matter, consider doing the following:

  • Secure proof of employment,
  • Secure reference letters,
  • Enroll in counselling (anger management/substance abuse/parenting),
  • Secure a record of prescriptions, and
  • Secure a record of any mental health conditions you suffer from.

These steps can be very helpful for building an effective defence (or convincing the Prosecutor to drop the charges altogether).

What can a lawyer do to help me defend against intimidation of a justice system participant charges in Kelowna?

As we start preparing your defence by examining police actions and the evidence against you, there are certain defence strategies that can be used to aid your cause, including:

  • Assembling documents, photographs, texts, etc. that contradict the allegation and support your defence;
  • Gathering evidence from witnesses that support your version of events;
  • Identifying mistakes in the actions of the police, such as Charter breaches;
  • Uncovering administrative/systemic errors, such as “Jordan delay,” non-disclosure, lost or destroyed evidence, etc.; and
  • Finding weaknesses or “holes” in the Crown’s case that may make it difficult or impossible for them to establish the elements of the offence.

Our experienced defence lawyers will use the most effective defence against the charges according to the precise circumstances of your case. Even if the charges proceed and you are found guilty, a good lawyer can significantly reduce the severity of the consequences for you.

Further Reading

Below are a few notable cases dealing with various aspects of intimidation of a justice system participant or journalist charges:

In R v Armstrong, 2012 BCCA 248, the British Columbia Court of Appeal considered the mental element of intimidation of justice system participant. In order to convict, the Crown must prove that the accused could have foreseen that the threat would cause sufficient intimidation to impede the participant’s performance of their duties.

In R v Cluney, 2008 SKQB 240 the accused was convicted of the murder of a Hell’s Angels informant. At issue was whether the accused was also guilty of intimidating a justice system participant by virtue of striking fear in other informants, dissuading them from coming forward in matters related to the Hell’s Angels. The Court noted that it is the intent of the accused rather than the effect of their activities that is determinative of guilt with respect to the intimidation charge. The informant’s murder may have had the effect of intimidating informants more generally, however there was insufficient evidence that this was the accused’s intent. The accused was acquitted of the intimidation charge.

What’s Next?

Most of the information above relates to simple intimidation of a justice system participant cases, which can still be complex and fact-specific.

We have tried our best to provide a general outline of what you can expect if you find yourself in this situation, but this is just the tip of the iceberg.

To learn more about how we can help, please contact our team of Intimidation of a Justice System Participant Lawyers. We will conduct a thorough review of your situation and tailor a precise strategy that targets your successful defence.

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