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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. 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

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.