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Criminal and Regulatory Law
While the bulk of my practice is employment related, I have been involved with clients charged with a variety of criminal offences, including assault, sexual assault and theft/fraud.
In Canada, criminal law is within the exclusive jurisdiction of the federal government. Most offences are codified in the Criminal Code of Canada.
In some provinces, Ontario, for example, workers compensation penalties, which can be significant, are pursued through prosecution by crown counsel. I have successfully defended clients prosecuted under provincial offences legislation.
Civil forfeiture is an important and troubling area of law, including from a civil liberties standpoint. It is within provincial jurisdiction. Civil law rules apply and the standard of proof is the balance of probabilities. In British Columbia, the Civil Forfeiture Act provides the government with powers to seize property in relation to “unlawful activity:” “if an act or omission occurs in British Columbia, the act or omission, at the time of occurrence, is an offence under an Act of Canada or British Columbia.” The law permits the government to seize property that is the “proceeds” or the “instrument” of crime (or an offence). In some instances, property worth less than $75,000 can be seized through an administrative process. Often people find it too expensive for people to defend forfeiture claims.
Since the law came into being, the government has seized approximately $63 million in assets. The seized assets pay for the Civil Forfeiture Office and its employees etc., raising the prospect of a significant conflict of interest.