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Hit and Run Charges

The Charge

People can be charged under s. 252 of the Criminal Code or s. 68 of the Motor Vehicle Act with failing to remain at the scene of an accident. When involved in an accident, drivers have a duty to provide their name and address and to offer assistance to any person that may be injured. Failure to do so can result in a criminal conviction and imprisonment for up to five years, even if there is no injury. If there is bodily harm, the maximum jail sentence is 10 years; if there is death, a hit and run driver faces up to 14 years in jail. In addition to any other punishment, the Crown will generally seek a significant driving prohibition upon any hit and run conviction.

Civil Liability – ICBC

In addition to any sentence imposed by the court, when drivers are convicted of the criminal offence of failure to remain at the scene of an accident, they face civil consequences. An essential condition of an ICBC insurance policy is that the coverage is voided if the driver is convicted of a criminal offence while driving. In the case of a very serious accident, this could leave a person convicted of hit and run exposed to a recovery action by ICBC for thousands or even millions of dollars.

The Investigation

At some point in virtually every accident case that involves injury to a person or damage to property, police will investigate in an effort to locate and identify the driver. Being in an accident can induce muddled thinking and even panic. Sometimes drivers reflexively keep driving after they have collided with a person or object. At other times, drivers are not sure whether they have, in fact, collided with a person or thing and they leave too quickly before identifying themselves and speaking to others who were involved with or who may have witnessed the accident. Police who investigate hit and run accidents will focus on trying to identify the vehicle and/or driver. They will canvas the accident scene in an effort to obtain witness statements and any available video or camera images. At times, police will produce a composite sketch or computer generated likeness of their suspect based on these witness accounts.

Recent Successes

R. vs. V.B. – Vancouver Provincial Court

.Charges: Assault; Uttering Threats (domestic).
Issue: Given the rehabilitative steps we were able to guide our client through, whether it was in the public interest to proceed with the criminal prosecution.
Result: Mr. Gauthier was able to provide information to Crown counsel on our client's behalf which resulted in Crown deciding to enterr a stay of proceedings on both charges. Stay of proceedings. No criminal record.

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

Charges: Assault of a Peace Officer.
Issue: Whether it was in the public interest for our client to be granted a discharge for his actions in spitting in the face of an RCMP officer at the Vancouver Airport.
Result: Mr. Gauthier presented information to the Court and after hearing his submissions, the Court granted our client a conditional discharge. No criminal record.

R. vs. F.S. – North Vancouver Provincial Court

Charge: Theft Under $5000.
Issue: Whether Crown could prove the number and value of the electronic devices they alleged our client stole from his workplace.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to persuade Crown counsel to allege that the theft involved  only 7 devices worth only $1000. After hearing Mr. Mines submissions, the Court granted our client a conditional discharge. No criminal conviction.

R. vs. M. G. – Sechelt RCMP investigation

Charges: Criminal harassment; Distributing intimate images without consent.
Issue: Whether the Crown could prove the circumstantial evidence they sought to rely on and whether jail was the  appropriate sentence.
Result: Mr. Gauthier was able to convince Crown counsel to not rely on much of the aggravating evidence and, on our client's guilty plea to not seek a jail sentence. After hearing Mr. Gauthier's submissions, the Court granted our client a suspended sentence with probation. No jail.

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

Charges: Criminal harassment; Distributing intimate images without consent.
Issue: Whether the Crown could prove the circumstantial evidence they sought to rely on and whether jail was the  appropriate sentence.
Result: Mr. Gauthier was able to convince Crown counsel to not rely on much of the aggravating evidence and, on our client's guilty plea to not seek a jail sentence. After hearing Mr. Gauthier's submissions, the Court granted our client a suspended sentence with probation. No jail.

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

Charge: Assault (domestic).
Issues: Whether there was a substantial likelihood of a conviction and whether it was in the public interest to proceed with the prosecution.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to provide information to Crown counsel that resulted in Crown electing to stay the proceedings and to end the prosecution. No criminal record.

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

Charge: Assault with a weapon.
Issue: Whether there was a substantial likelihood of a conviction.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to provide information to Crown counsel which resulted in Crown deciding to end the prosecution not approve any charges.  No criminal record.

R. vs. J.L. – UBC RCMP Investigation

Charges: Assault.
Issue: Whether there was a substantial likelihood of obtaining a criminal conviction and whether it was in the public interest for police to recommend charges.
Result: Mr. Gauthier was able to provide information to police whic resulted in police closing their investigation. No charges recommended. No criminal record.

R. vs. T.A. – West Shore RCMP investigation

Charge: Assault (Domestic).
Issue: Whether it was in the public interest for the Crown to proceed with a criminal prosecution.
Result: Mr. Gauthier provided information to Crown Counsel that convinced them not to approve charges against the client. No criminal prosecution. No criminal record.

R. vs. J.S. – Surrey Provincial Court

Charge: Sexual Assault (reduced to common assault.)
Issue: Whether Crown counsel could prove that our client touched the complainant for a sexual purpose.
Result: Mr. Mines was able tp persuade Crown counsel that our client did not intend to touch the complainant in a sexual manner. The Crown agreed to proceed on the lesser charge of common assault and, after hearing Mr. Mines' submissions, the Judge granted our client a conditional discharge. No criminal conviction. No jail. No sex offender registry.

R. vs. N.R. – Sechelt Provincial Court

Charge: Assault Causing Bodily Harm.
Issue: Whether it was in the pubic interest for our client to be sentenced to a conditional discharge for this offence which resulted in a serious facial cut to the complainant.

R. vs. S.K. – Surrey Provincial Court

Charges: Assault; Assault with a Weapon, Breach of a Release Order.
Issue: Whether our client could be released on bail given Crown's concerns for his willingness to attend court and potential to commit further offences.
Result: Mr. Johnston was able to persuade the Judge to release our client on the least onerous conditions.

The Defence

We see a significant number of clients who contact us after an incident where they believe police may be looking for them as a suspected hit and run driver. We are experienced in acting as a “buffer” between our client and police in these situations. This is because we are able to protect our client through the laws of solicitor/client privilege. This means that we can speak to police on our client’s behalf without incriminating our client. We often are, effectively, able to assist our client with their civil obligations involved in dealing with ICBC or other insurers without our client providing direct evidence that would strengthen the Crown’s case against them. In a nutshell, Hit and Run driving defences are aimed at controlling the misinformation police are seeking from our client. We are able to do so by relying on concepts such as the “right to remain silent” and other guarantees of fundamental justice as set out in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

We defend hit and run charges at trial by identifying areas of the Crown’s case that are weak and tend not to prove that our client was, in fact, the driver, or that they knew they were involved in an accident. We are experienced in defending driving charges and know how to protect our client’s rights when they are being investigated or charged with a hit and run offence.

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.