Victoria Criminal Defence Lawyers
A Team Of Experienced Criminal Defence Lawyers Serving Victoria And The Surrounding Area
If you have been charged with a criminal offence in Victoria or the surrounding area, we will provide you with the help that you need. If you have been arrested, you have begun what may be one of the most challenging and stressful experiences of your life. Following your arrest, the police placed restrictions on your liberty that are interfering with your life, your work, and your personal relationships. We understand that it is your priority to resolve your charges and go back to living normally as quickly as possible.
If you have been charged with a criminal offence, Canadian law says that you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. However, the Crown and the police already believe you are guilty and they will deploy all available resources to prove their case. If you are found guilty of a criminal offence, you can expect that the conviction will have a serious and negative impact on your life, even if you spend no time in jail. Some of the more common unforeseen consequences include:
- Loss of employment
- Inability to secure new employment
- Inability to volunteer
- Inability to travel to US (and other countries)
- Loss of driving privileges
- Restitution and civil liability
- Loss of custody/access to children
- Inability to sponsor family
Given the potential ramifications of a criminal conviction, it is in your best interest to seek the assistance of a skilled and dedicated criminal defence lawyer to provide you with the fullest defence possible.
As trial lawyers with an exclusive focus on criminal law, we are in court interacting with Criminal Law Judges and Crown Prosecutors on a daily basis. Our in-court presence and our daily research and writing on the most recent and effective legal defences allows us to stay on top of the current practices and procedures employed by the Justice System. With offices in British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario, the lawyers at Oykhman Criminal Defence will combine their collective experience, legal knowledge, and advocacy skills to provide you with full and effective service, while ensuring that you understand your rights and options every step of the way.
We understand that a criminal charge can be an unexpected and significant expense. We will provide you with the first consultation free of charge, and we offer flexible fee structures to meet every budget.
What you decide to do from here is completely up to you. However, we cannot stress enough that criminal law is a complex area of law that is best navigated by experienced criminal defence counsel. In order to maximize your chances of quickly achieving a positive outcome, contact a defence lawyer as soon as possible.
Oykhman Criminal Defence is a full service criminal law office that handles all types of criminal and regulatory charges. A short list of the types of charges we handle includes:
- Assault; Assault with a Weapon/Bodily Harm; Aggravated Assault
- Threats; Confinement; Kidnapping
- Sexual Assault; Child Sexual Assault; Child Pornography; Voyeurism; Trespass
- Theft and Fraud; False Pretences; Forged Documents
- Break and Enter; Robbery; Possession of Stolen Property
- Impaired Driving; Over 80/.08; Refusal; DUI; Care or Control
- Dangerous Driving; Disqualified Driving; Prohibited Driving; Flight from Police
- Improper Storage of Firearms; Concealed Weapon; Discharge Firearms
- Drug Possession; Drug Trafficking; Drug Import/Export; Drug Grow/Production
- Youth Offences
- Traffic Offences; Careless Driving; Hit and Run; Speeding; No Insurance
- Breach or Probation/CSO/Release/EPO; Fail to Appear for Court
The Court Process in Victoria
If you have been charged with a criminal offence in Victoria, at some point you will have to appear before the Provincial Court of British Columbia, located at 850 Burdett Avenue, Victoria BC V8W 1B4. If you are out of custody following your arrest, your first appearance will typically be before a Judicial Case Manager (JCM). JCMs are Justices of the Peace who preside in Initial Appearance and Assignment Courts. The main role of JCMs is to schedule matters such as preliminary inquiries, hearings, trials, sentencings, some bail hearings, and special applications. In Victoria, JCMs sit in Courtroom 103 on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays beginning at 9:00 am.
For in-custody matter, or if you have a more serious/complex criminal case, you will likely appear in the Adult Criminal Remand Court in Courtroom 101. Remand Court sits every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, starting at 9:30 am, and every Tuesday beginning at 2:00 pm. A judge presides over this court, and they will hear matters such as bail hearings and contested criminal applications.
If you or someone you know has been charged with an offence as a youth, the initial appearance will occur in the Youth Criminal Court, which sits every alternate Tuesday, beginning at 9:30 am in Courtroom 203.
After you have been charged with a criminal offence, it is not unusual for your first few appearances to result in adjournments so that you can hire a lawyer or obtain disclosure. Once you have hired a criminal defence lawyer and determined how you would like to plead, you will either set your matter for trial or for disposition. If you plead not guilty and you are charged with a summary conviction offence, your trial will be set in an Assignment Courtroom or a Summary Proceedings Court in the Provincial Court of British Columbia. If you have been charged with an indictable offence and you proceed to trial, you and your lawyer may have the opportunity to elect whether you are tried before the Provincial Court of British Columbia without a jury, in the Supreme Court of British Columbia with a jury, or in the Supreme Court of British Columbia without a jury.
The Investigation of Criminal Offences in Victoria
Criminal investigations in Victoria can be conducted by either the Victoria Police Department (VicPD), or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). The investigative powers of the VicPD and the RCMP are essentially the same, and how they proceed with a criminal investigation will depend largely on the nature of the offence, and how they came to suspect that criminal activity was occurring.
The Victoria Police force has a Patrol Division which is split into 4 Patrol Watches, each with their own Staff Sergeant, 4 Sergeants and 21 Constables. The Victoria Police also have a number of specialized units that are designed to target specific types of crime, for example, the Domestic Violence Unit, the Integrated Child Exploitation Unit, Financial Crime Unit, Major Crime Unit, and the Forensic Identification Section, to name a few. In addition to uniformed police officers, the Victoria Police also have an Operational Support Section which is made up of plainclothes officers who conduct undercover surveillance of individuals they believe to be engaged in criminal activity.
The RCMP have two detachments in Victoria, one at 698 Atkins Ave, V9B 3A4, and the other at 2881 Nanaimo Street, BC V8T 4Z8. These detachments are part of the RCMP’s larger Island District patrol which provides land, sea, and air support to the majority of the communities on Vancouver Island.
If the Victoria Police or the RCMP have conducted an investigation and they believe that they have gathered enough evidence to charge you with a criminal offence, you will be arrested and brought back to one of the Police or RCMP detachments. While you are detained, the police will likely question you and try to obtain more evidence from you. If you have been detained by either the VicPD or the RCMP, it is of vital importance that you remain silent until you have had an opportunity to speak with a criminal defence lawyer.
Getting Bail in Victoria
Where, when, and how you are released after you have been arrested in Victoria will depend on the nature and the severity of the crime for which you were detained. Generally speaking, the police can choose to release you shortly after your arrest, or they may try to keep you in custody for a more prolonged period of time.
By law, you should be released by the police as soon as it is practicable to do so, unless the police or the Crown can justify your continued detention. Some valid reasons for keeping you in custody include the need to protect the public, preserving evidence of the offence, or ensuring that you attend court. If the police determine that you need to be kept in custody, you should be granted a bail hearing (a ‘show cause hearing’) within the first 24 hours of your arrest.
Many bail hearings in Victoria and throughout British Columbia are held through the Justice Centre located in Burnaby, British Columbia. The Justice Centre is a large centre staffed by Judicial Justices 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Most of the bail hearings that occur at the Justice Centre will be held when court is not open, or when the court cannot hear bail during regular hours. As such, these bail hearings will typically be conducted over telephone and videoconference. You can find the reports of bail hearings held the preceding day at the Justice Centre Daily Judicial Interim Release Results. You can reach the Justice Centre by calling 604-660-3263.
While the Justices that preside over bail hearings at the Justice Centre are not judges, they still have the authority to:
- Release you on an undertaking with or without conditions;
- Release you on a recognizance with or without a surety; and
- Continue your detention and make orders for your remand.
If your bail hearing is not heard through the Justice Centre, it will be heard before a judge in court. A judge will also preside over your bail hearing if you were denied bail at first instance by a Judicial Justice, and you bring it before a judge in court to be reviewed.
If either a Judicial Justice or a Judge denies you bail and determines that you are to be held in pre-trial custody, you will be held in a provincial correctional facility until your trial or until your bail can be reviewed. Individuals who are denied bail in Victoria will likely be held in Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre, at 4216 Wilkinson Road, Victoria B.C. If you know someone being held at Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre, you can arrange a visit with the inmate by calling 250-953-4433.
Domestic Violence and Spousal Assault Charges in Victoria
Domestic violence refers to a wide range of violent behaviour which is inflicted on someone with whom you have a domestic relationship. You are considered to be in a domestic relationship with current or former opposite or same-sex partners, as well as your current and former family or common-law relationships. Some criminal charges that are commonly laid in relation to domestic violence include:
- Assault causing bodily harm
- Assault with a weapon
- Aggravated assault
- Sexual Assault
- Uttering Threats
- Criminal Harassment
- Unlawful Confinement
- Mischief, Break and Enter, or other property damage
In Victoria and throughout the rest of British Columbia, domestic and spousal violence is treated differently than most violent crimes due to its prevalence and the fact that the victim often has significant physical, emotional and financial ties to the alleged abuser. To distinguish domestic violence files from other violence offences, the Criminal Justice Branch of British Columbia refers to domestic violence and spousal assault files as “K” files. As a matter of policy, it is the Crown’s goal to prosecute these files to the greatest extent possible, even if the victim has decided they do not wish to charge you or testify against you. Due to Crown policy on “K” files, it will also be the Prosecutor’s aim to impose a heavy sentence following a finding of guilt. This frequently means that the Crown will be seeking jail or other serious penalties if you are convicted.
If you have been charged with a domestic violence offence or spousal assault in Victoria, your bail conditions will likely preclude you from having any contact with the complainant and will preclude you from attending their residence and place of work. Because people charged with domestic violence offences often share a home with the complainant, this frequently means that your bail conditions will prohibit you from returning to your own home. As criminal defence lawyers with ample experience defending domestic violence and spousal assault charges, we understand how disruptive your bail conditions can be. We know that it is of utmost importance that your bail conditions are varied where possible, and that your matter is dealt with quickly so that you can return home. Owing to our experience defending clients with domestic violence charges, we also understand that proceeding to trial is often an undesirable route to take. As you will see by looking at our successful cases, we strive to quickly resolve our clients’ domestic violence charges in a manner that allows you to avoid a criminal conviction without proceeding to trial. If you have been charged with a domestic violence offence, contact one of our criminal defence lawyers immediately so that we can work on varying the conditions of your bail, and help you live your life normally while we resolve your criminal charges.
Property Offences in Victoria
Property offences are one of the most common criminal offences in British Columbia. In 2016, Statistics Canada reported a total of 237,649 property offences in British Columbia, meaning that 20% of all property offences in Canada occurred in our province alone. Some of the more common property offences in Victoria include breaking and entering, mischief, theft, possession of stolen property, and fraud. In criminal law, the prevalence of a crime is significant because it means that the Crown and the court will strive to impose heavier penalties on those who are convicted of the offence. As such, if you have been charged with any sort of property offence, it is important that you immediately seek the assistance of an experienced criminal defence lawyer to ensure that you are receiving a full and effective defence for your charges.
Our criminal defence lawyers have extensive experience defending charges for property offences, and we use our collective knowledge of the criminal justice system to quickly resolve charges without a criminal record. Even in cases where the incriminating evidence seems overwhelming, it’s never a good idea to plead guilty without a thorough review of the case. As you can see from our successful cases, we may still be able to negotiate a favourable resolution for your charges, or exclude incriminating evidence at trial so that you can avoid a criminal conviction. To find out what options or defences may be available in your case, contact one of our criminal defence lawyers in Victoria today. In the interim, you can learn more about defending property offences such as fraud, theft, and mischief, by visiting the FAQ section of our website.
Drug Charges in Victoria
Throughout Canada, drug charges are prosecuted by the Federal Government under the Controlled Drug and Substances Act (CDSA). Some of the drug-related criminal charges under the CDSA include drug possession, drug trafficking, importing or exporting drugs, and drug production. Typically the penalty you face if convicted of a drug charge depends largely on the type of drug-related activity you were involved in, and the type of drug that you were caught with. Simple possession of marihuana and ecstasy, for example, can often be diverted out of the criminal justice system. If you are convicted of a drug related offence, you may lose you job, face incredible difficulties trying to find work, and you will almost certainly experience difficulties when trying to travel. So even if the penalty seems low, it’s still very important to fight for no criminal record for drug offences.
As you get into more serious drugs, including cocaine, MDMA, Heroin, and Fentanyl, it becomes more and more difficult to resolve such charges with no criminal record. When the allegations include trafficking, or production of serious drugs, the prosecutors typically seek lengthy jail sentences starting around 3 years. Sophisticated arguments will be necessary to effectively fight the case, and that’s what our team of defence lawyers is good at.
Victoria does not have specialized courts dedicated to hearing drug-related charges, so your charges will be heard alongside various other offences that are mostly handled by provincial Crown prosecutors. Without the right resources and appropriate contacts, it can be difficult for you to know whether the Federal Crown assigned to your matter will be present in court on the same day as you appear, and it will be difficult for you to resolve your charges on your own. In order to ensure that your charges are effectively defended and quickly resolved, you should seek the assistance of an experienced criminal defence lawyer. With our resources and knowledge of the criminal justice system, we can quickly reach out to the prosecutors in charge of your case, and immediately begin working to resolve your charges in the most effective and efficient manner possible.
If you have been charged with a drug offence that is also related to gang activity, you are facing significant legal jeopardy. Gang related activity is taken very seriously in Victoria and throughout British Columbia, and gang connections are deemed to be a very aggravating factor in sentencing. This means that there is a significantly higher chance that you will spend some time in jail following a conviction for a gang-related drug offence.
Due to the prevalent and serious nature of gang-related offences in British Columbia, law enforcement in our province strives to thoroughly and intensively investigate gang activity with the assistance of the Organized Crime Agency of British Columbia (OCABC). In 2000 the government of British Columbia established the OCABC as a special police force to reduce gang-related activity. The OCABC is a designated police agency that operates much like any other police department in the province. Like the police, they have a force of sworn law enforcement officers that employ various cutting-edge investigative methods to identify and secure evidence of gang-related crime. Owing to the collaboration of the OCABC and the Victoria Police Department, investigations of gang-related activity have the potential to procure very incriminating evidence against any suspected offenders.
In order to ensure you are effectively defended in the event that you are charged with a gang-related drug offence, contact one of our Victoria criminal defence lawyers today. We will immediately begin working to build you a full and effective defence, and we will do everything we can in order to ensure that you avoid the harsh consequences of a conviction for this very serious offence.
Impaired Driving and Immediate Roadside Prohibition Offences in Victoria
In Victoria, impaired driving offences are punishable under federal and provincial law. In Victoria and throughout the rest of British Columbia, the Motor Vehicle Act authorizes the Victoria police to suspend your licence from 24 hours to 90 days. The length of your licence suspension will depend largely on your blood alcohol content at the time of the offence, and how many times this has happened previously. The police can determine your blood alcohol content by having you blow into a screening device at the roadside, or by having you blow into an evidentiary device back at the police detachment.
It is important to know that if the police reasonably believe that your ability to drive has been affected by drugs and or alcohol, they can actually issue a 24-hour Roadside Driving Prohibition without administering a roadside screening test. If the police intend to suspend your licence for 24 hours for this reason, you can immediately demand that they administer a roadside test so that they can see that your driving is not actually affected by alcohol.
Be warned that if the police do administer a roadside screening test and your blood alcohol content falls within the range of 0.05 and 0.08, you will be subject to the “Immediate Roadside Prohibition” (IRP) program. Under the IRP program, the suspensions progress as follows:
- First offence – 3 day licence suspension and $200.00 fine with possible 3 day vehicle seizure
- Second offence (in 5 years) – 7 day licence suspension and $300 fine with possible 7 day vehicle seizure
- Third offence (in 5 years) – 30 day licence suspension and $400 fine with mandatory 30 day vehicle seizure
These penalties do not include towing, impound and reinstatement fees. Moreover, you may also be subject to additional reinstatement fees and conditions, and each case must be reviewed separately to determine what might be required.
If found operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content that is over 0.08, or if you refuse to provide a breath sample upon demand, the police have several options. The first option is for them to serve a 90 day Immediate Roadside Prohibition. This will cause your licence to be suspended immediately, and your vehicle will be impounded for 30 days. You will be responsible for towing, impound and licence reinstatement fees in addition to a $500.00 fine.
The second option is for the police to lay a Criminal Charge of impaired driving/over 0.08/refusal under the Criminal Code. If you are charged criminally, the police will also issue an “Administrative Driving Prohibition” (ADP) by giving you a Notice of Driving Prohibition, and your licence will be taken by the police. Under the ADP, you still have a 90 day driving prohibition, but you are given a 21-day grace period where you are allowed to drive. The purpose of these 21 days will be to allow you to arrange a different means of transportation while your suspension is in effect.
Regardless of which option the police chose to go with, you can and should seek out an experienced criminal defence lawyer to help you challenge your licence suspension and/or criminal charge. It is vital to note that if you have received a Notice of Driving Prohibition and you intend to have your licence suspension reviewed, you only have 7 days from the date of the Notice to let the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles know that you intend to challenge your licence suspension. You can obtain a form to apply for a review from any registry, and you will need to submit your application with a $100.00 fee if you wish to present your case in writing, or a $200.00 fee if you wish to present your case orally. While you can fill out the application for review in person, one of our criminal defence lawyers can also do so on your behalf.
Owing to our years of experience defending criminal impaired driving charges, we know the most effective ways for you to get your licence back as quickly as possible. To find out how you can appeal your Administrative Licence Suspension, or how you can defend your impaired driving charges, contact one of our criminal defence lawyers in Victoria today. To see how we have effectively defended our client’s impaired driving charges, please visit our Successful Cases.
Why Hire Us
We are really good at what we do. But beyond that, we pride ourselves on providing not only the best result possible, but exceptional customer service along the way. We offer a free initial consultation during which we will review the circumstances of your case, the process, the fee structure and what we can do to help. Moreover, because we have a whole team of lawyers, we can offer a broad range of fees and flexible payment plans to meet virtually any budget.
Contact one of our experienced criminal defence lawyers today and judge for yourself.