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Professional Discipline

& Non-Academic Misconduct Investigations

The Allegation

Professionals in various fields, including health, education, engineering, and law, are responsible to their various commissions, colleges or societies to abide by standards of conduct that are set out by regulation. When allegations are brought forward that a member has violated a rule of conduct, the professional may face an investigation and enforcement action brought by the organization of which they are a member. In British Columbia, there is statutory authority for various organizations to be self-regulating, with respect to the rules and regulations of membership. Such organizations include:

  • College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia,
  • College of Pharmacists of British Columbia,
  • College of Psychologists of British Columbia;
  • College of Registered Massage Therapists of British Columbia,
  • Law Society of British Columbia;
  • British Columbia Securities Commission,
  • BC Teacher’s Council

Post-secondary institutions – universities, colleges and technical schools – also have the power to self-regulate the behavior of students and staff under academic and non-academic misconduct policies. For example, under the University of British Columbia’s Sexual Assault and Other Sexual Misconduct Policy, a complaint can be brought against a student or faculty member which can result in termination of employment or expulsion from academic studies.

The Investigation

Professional bodies and post-secondary institutions may investigate complaints alone, or in parallel with police investigators. The rules imposed by the professional body are civil in nature and are markedly different from the laws provided under the Criminal Code and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. For example, in a criminal investigation, a suspect has the right to remain silent. This is not the case in a professional or student misconduct allegation. To the contrary, a subject of a misconduct complaint has the obligation to cooperate in the investigation at the risk of maintaining their professional credentials or right to continue their studies.

Because on one hand there is an obligation to cooperate and on the other there is the right to remain silent, a person facing a professional misconduct allegation must exercise caution so as to not give up the right against self-incrimination in the criminal law context.

Recent Successes

R. vs. P.S.A. - Vancouver Provincial Court

Charge: Assault.
Issue: Whether there was a substantial likelihood of a conviction.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to direct Crown counsel to gaps in the police investigation resulting in Crown deciding to not approve any charge in this matter. No criminal record.

R. vs. S.J. - Port Coquitlam Provincial Court

Charge: Driving While Prohibited. Issue: Whether the crown…

R. vs. M.L. - Vancouver Provincial Court

Charge: Assault; Uttering Threats (domestic).
Issue: Given the rehabilitative steps our client achieved under our direction, whether there was a public interest in proceeding with the criminal prosecution.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to persuade Crown counsel to stay the charges.  All restrictive conditions removed. No criminal record.

R. vs. C.S. - Port Coquitlam Provincial Court

Charge: Assault (domestic).
Issue: Whether there was a substantial likelihood of a conviction.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to point to a lack of evidence with respect to the charge resulting in Crown counsel entering a stay of proceedings. No criminal record.

R. vs. N.D. - Richmond Provincial Court

Charge: Sexual Assault.
Issue: Whether there was a substantial likelihood of a conviction.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to direct Crown counsel to various flaws in the prosecution's case. On the eve of a 4 day trial, Crown agreed to resolve this matter by way of a nine month Peace Bond. No criminal record.

R. vs. B.M. - Vancouver Provincial Court

Charge: Driving While Prohibited.
Issue: Whether it was appropriate for Crown counsel to proceed on this charge, which carries a mandatory minimum 12 month driving prohibition.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to persuade Crown to proceed on the lesser offence of driving without a valid driver's licence. After hearing Mr. johnson's submissions, the court imposed a $500 fine. No driving prohibition.

R. vs. B.C. - Vancouver Provincial Court

Charge: Assault Causing Bodily Harm.
Issue: Given the rehabilitative steps our client had taken, whether it was in the public interest to proceed with the criminal charge.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to persuade Crown counsel to stay the criminal charge. Our client entered into a Peace Bond for a period of 9 months. No criminal record.

R. vs. Z.H. - Port Coquitlam Youth Court

Charge: Assault Causing Bodily Harm.
Issue: Whether, given the history between our client and the complainant, it was reasonable for our client apply  the level of force he used.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to persuade Crown to not approve any criminal charge but, rather, to resolve the matter through Restorative Justice. No criminal record.

Y.Y. vs. Superintendent of Motor Vehicles - Review of Driving Prohibition

Charge: Notice of Intent to Prohibit.
Issue: Whether RoadSafety BC had appropriate reasons to prohibit our client from driving for 4 months.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to persuade the Superintendent's adjudicator that the 4 month driving prohibition was not warranted. The driving prohibition was reduced to 2 months.

R. vs. R.H. - North Vancouver Provincial Court

Charges: Assault (x2); Threatening; Breach of Undertaking (domestic).
Issue: Given the rehabilitative steps our client had taken, whether it was appropriate for the Court to convict him.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to persuade Crown to proceed on only a single count of assault. After hearing Mr. Mines' submissions, the Court granted our client a conditional discharge. No criminal conviction.  

R. vs. D.I. - Vancouver Provincial Court

Charges: Dangerous Driving Causing Bodily Harm; Driving Without Due Care and Attention.
Issue: Whether it was appropriate for Crown to charge our client under the Criminal Code or the Motor Vehicle Act in regard to an accident where our client's vehicle struck a cyclist from behind, causing serious injury.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to provide information to Crown which resulted in Crown proceeding under the Motor Vehicle Act. After hearing Mr. Mines' submissions, the Court sentenced our client to a $1000 fine and limited his ability to drive for 12 months. No criminal conviction. No loss of insurance coverage. No jail.

R. vs. C.G. - North Vancouver Provincial Court

Charge: s. 810 Peace Bond Application.
Issue: Given the rehabilitative steps our client had taken, whether the complainant continued to have fear of our client.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to persuade Crown counsel to withdraw its Peace Bond application. No conditions. No record.

The Defence

Our over 30 years’ experience as defence counsel provides us with the skill and judgement necessary to guide clients through a professional misconduct complaint, whether alone or in conjunction with a criminal investigation. From the complaint, through the investigation, to the hearing, we can provide strategies and advice that will protect your rights and that is aimed at obtaining the best possible solution. Our goal is to help keep our clients working or studying in their chosen field.

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.