Victoria Criminal Defence Lawyers
Located in Victoria, we represent clients all over Vancouver Island including Nanaimo, Port Alberni, Parksville, Courtenay, Campbell River and beyond.
If you have you been arrested and charged with a criminal offence, the first steps have been taken to criminally prosecute you. You have already experienced a restriction of your liberties, but unfortunately, this is just the beginning. The government will now use its immense resources to prosecute you in court. Even if you don’t ultimately end up being sentenced to serve time in prison, any criminal conviction can have resounding ramifications on your life. You can have difficulties obtaining employment, hassles with international travel, and will receive a criminal record.
Being charged with a criminal offence
It is important to remember that you are presumed innocent until such time that you are proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in court. When you face the justice system alone, it does not feel like you are presumed innocent, and successfully defending yourself in court may be an insurmountable task. You only have one chance to get it right. This is where we can help; we defend people in your situation for a living. We exclusively practice criminal defence and are passionate about the law. We will comb-through the case against you, identify weaknesses, advocate for your interests at all stages of the court process, and convincingly present your defence in court.
We are a full-service criminal law office handling all types of criminal and regulatory charges from Mischief to Murder, including:
- 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; Drug Driving
- Immediate Roadside Prohibition (IRP)
- 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
As one of our firm’s central offices is in Victoria, we have intricate knowledge of Victoria’s criminal court system and know how to quickly and effectively resolve your criminal charges.
The Victoria provincial courthouse is located at 850 Burdett Ave, Victoria, BC and is open Monday through Friday 9:00AM – 4:30PM. Because a large number of criminal matters are heard daily in the Victoria courthouse, some courtrooms and floors are dedicated to specific types of matters. For example, in British Columbia, there are a number of specialized “problem-solving courtrooms”, with the main one in Victoria being the Victoria Integrated Court commonly known at the V.I.C. The VIC is held on Tuesday mornings in courtroom 101.
All Adult Criminal matters heard in the Victoria provincial court are heard on the 100 level. Criminal docket appearances typically take place in a docket courtroom, such as courtroom 101 on all non VIC days. A large number of criminal matters will be heard in this courtroom, so the room is reserved for simple appearances like adjournments, entering pleas, and setting trial dates. If you are going to trial, the location of your trial will usually be determined on the first day of trial.
Although virtually all substantive law is the same whether charges occur in Victoria or elsewhere in British Columbia, there are some key differences that you should be aware of. Below are some of the main distinctions. For specifics about your case, it’s important that you contact one of our criminal defence lawyers directly to ensure you get the right advice.
Frequently Asked Questions
Many people arrive at their first Court date ready to tell the judge why they are not guilty. Unfortunately, the first Court date is not the venue to do that. The first Court date is called a “plea” or “to speak to” date, meaning your case is at the plea stage. Nothing can happen until you plead guilty or not guilty. If you decide to plead not-guilty, a trial date will be set for another day or days. If you decide to plead guilty, in some situations you can be found guilty and sentenced on your first appearance, but it is advisable to speak to a lawyer before doing this.
Even if you are sure you want to plead not-guilty, it is advisable not to do this on the first day. You should consider all the information available before making such an important decision, so you will want to wait until you receive and review your disclosure (the police’s evidence against you) before you decide how to plead. This will also give you time to consult and hire a lawyer. Often times, you can receive at least some of your disclosure on the first Court appearance – but you will still need time to have your lawyer review it!
If you hire a lawyer before your first Court date, the lawyer can attend for you, and you will not have to go at all.
Missing a Criminal Court Appearance is a criminal offence.
If you miss your Court date a warrant will be issued for your arrest. When the police do arrest you, you will be charged with the criminal offence of failing to appear in Court. If you are convicted of this offence, it will be harder for you to get bail in the future because you will be seen as someone who has a tendency for not showing up to Court.
If you absolutely cannot make it to Court because of a serious reason such as your own hospitalization (not because you don’t want to miss your friend’s birthday party), you should either hire a lawyer to attend for you, or if you cannot hire a lawyer in time, send a close friend or family member to Court for you to explain why you cannot go personally.
If you are in a remote community and cannot attend Court because of severe weather, you should phone the Courthouse and advise them of this. This will not guarantee that there will not be a warrant issued for you arrest, but phoning is better than just not showing up.
Yes, every day people beat their criminal charge. ‘Beating’ your charge can take a number of different forms depending on your case. If the Crown prosecutor withdraws your charge, you will no longer be prosecuted and you will have beat your charge. If you are found not guilty after trial, a judge will have decided that there is not enough evidence to convict you and you will have beat your charge. If you are charged with a very serious charge, and Crown prosecutor agrees to allow you to plead guilty to a less serious charge to avoid a certain punishment, you may have ‘beat’ the charge depending on your perspective.
You can greatly increase your chances of achieving any one of the above scenarios by hiring a Criminal Defence lawyer. Schedule a free consultation today to start planning your strategy to beat your charge.
If you are convicted of a criminal offence you will be labelled a criminal. You will face a sentence which may restrict your liberty (for example if you face prison time), your ability to drive (if you are convicted of impaired driving you will face a driving prohibition), or you may have to report to probation. Depending on the charge, you may also be restricted from certain areas of employment and from travelling to certain countries.
You can greatly increase your chances of avoiding these outcomes by hiring a Criminal Defence lawyer. In considering whether it is ‘worth it’ to hire a lawyer, you have to consider what avoiding these outcomes is worth to you. Schedule a free consultation to start planning your defence today.
In Canada, there are 2 types of criminal offences: indictable offences and summary offences. In the United States, criminal offences are also divided into 2 categories: felonies and misdemeanors, which people in Canada often confuse for indictable and summary.
Indictable level offences are the more serious offences. Murder, manslaughter, treason, and robbery are all indictable offences. Because these offences are more serious, the maximum punishments available are higher. However, because these offences are more serious, you are also entitled to more process. For these offences, you have the option of having a preliminary enquiry and to be tried by a judge and jury.
Summary level offences are the less serious offences. The maximum punishment available for these offences are much lower, and you do not have the option of having a preliminary inquiry and to be tried by a jury.
Most criminal offences in Canada fit into a third category: hybrid offences. Hybrid offences allow the Crown prosecutor to choose (“elect”) if they would like to proceed in your case “by indictment” or “by summary conviction”.
The cost of a criminal defence lawyer will depend on how complex your case is, how complex the charges are, and how experiences the Criminal Defence lawyer is. If you are hiring a lawyer to manage your case from start to finish, the price will be in the thousands of dollars, not hundreds. While this may sound like a lot, consider that most criminal cases take anywhere from 4 – 24 months to make their way through the Court system, which gives you more time to get money together. Additionally, we offer flexible payment schedules.
Yes, you can change your Criminal Defence lawyer, but there may be some difficulties in doing so depending on your circumstances. If you want to change your Criminal Defence lawyer, you will have to ask your old Criminal Defence lawyer to terminate your retainer payment before you can hire a new Criminal Defence lawyer. This may require that lawyer to bring your case to a judge to ask that he or she to no longer be your lawyer.
If you want to change your Criminal Defence lawyer, it is important to give the new Criminal Defence lawyer as much time as possible to review your case and prepare your defence. If it is too close to your trial, it may no longer be possible for a new Criminal Defence lawyer to take your case.
If you are considering changing your Criminal Defence lawyer, schedule a free consultation to discuss this possibility.