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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. M.P. – ICBC insurance fraud investigation.

Charge: Insurance fraud.
Issue: Whether it was in the public interest to proceed with a criminal prosecution.
Result: Mr. Gauthier was able to steer our client through the investigation by helping our client rectify the fraudulent information that he had provided to I.C.B.C. No charges approved. No criminal record.

R. vs. S.B. – Port Coquitlam Provincial Court

Charges: Assault Causing Bodily Harm; Assault Police Officer.
Issue: Given our client's severe mental health issues, whether he was criminally responsible for the offences.
Result: Mr. Gauthier was able to provide information about our client's mental health history to Crown counsel and, ultimately, was able to persuade Crown to end the prosecution. Stay of proceedings. No jail. No criminal record.

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

Charge: Mischief Under $5000.,br> Issue: Whether it was in the public interest to proceed with a criminal prosecution.
Result: Mr. Gauthier provided information about our client to Crown counsel and was able to persuade Crown that there was no public interest in prosecuting this matter. No charge approved. No criminal record.

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

Charge: Mischief Under $5000.
Issue: Whether it was in the public interest to proceed with a criminal prosecution.
Result: Mr. Gauthier provided information about our client to Crown counsel and was able to persuade Crown that there was no public interest in prosecuting this matter. No charge approved. No criminal record.

R. vs. W.F. – Richmond Provincial Court

Charge: Assault.
Issue: Whether this road rage incident was a criminal offence or a consensual fight.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to present Crown counsel with video evidence which confirmed that the complainant had engaged in a consensual altercation. Stay of proceedings. No criminal record.

R. vs. K.Y. – Surrey Provincial Court

Charge: Assault Causing Bodily Harm.
Issue: Whether the 18 month jail sentence Crown had sought was reasonable in all the circumstances.
Result: Mr. Johnson provided information to the Crown and Court and ultimately persuaded the trial judge to sentence our client to a 7 month conditional sentence , followed ny 18 months probation. No jail.

R. vs. G.W. – North Vancouver RCMP Investigation

Charge: Assault with a weapon.
Issue: Whether there was sufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able collect information from a defence witness and represent to police that our client should not  be prosecuted. Police concluded their investigation without recommending any criminal charge against our client. No criminal record.

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

Charge: Assault with a Weapon.
Issue: Given the rehabilitative steps we directed our client to complete, whether it was in the public interest to proceed with the criminal prosecution.
Result: Mr. Gauthier was able to persuade Crown counsel to not approve any charge prior to the scheduled first court appearance. No criminal record.

R. vs. S.L. – Port Coquitlam Provincial Court

Charges: Possession of a loaded prohibited firearm; Unlawful storage of firearms.
Issue: Whether the warrant used to search our client's premises was lawful; whether our client posed a risk to re-offend.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to point to potential flaws in the warrant and police search which culminated in Crown's agreement to not pursue their original sentencing position of a 2-3 year jail sentence. Rather, the court accepted a joint submission of a 12 month conditional sentence with a curfew for the first six months. No jail.

R. vs. M.K.A. – Vancouver Provincial Court

Charges: Assault with a Weapon (x2).
Issue: Whether it was in the public interest for the court to grant our client a conditional discharge.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to direct our client through a course of rehabilitative counselling, and after hearing Mr. Mines' submissions, the trial judge granted our client a conditional discharge. No criminal conviction.

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

Charges: Assault (domestic).
Issue: Given the rehabilitative steps that we were able to guide our client through, whether there was a public interest in continuing with the prosecution.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to persuade Crown counsel to amend the bail condition to allow "permissive contact" with the complainant, and after providing Crown with a report from our client's psychologist Crown counsel ended the prosecution. Stay of proceedings. No criminal record.

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

Charges: Sexual assault; Unlawful Confinement; Assault by Choking.
Issue: Given the impact of the additional evidence that Mr. Johnson provided to Crown counsel, whether there was a substantial likelihood of a conviction.
Result: Crown counsel agreed that the new evidence significantly undermined the strength of the case.  Crown counsel entered a stay of proceedings, bringing the prosecution to an end. No jail. No criminal 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.