June 18, 2024

Obligate Law

Professional Law Makers

Criminal Law in British Columbia: When Do I Need a Defense Lawyer?

2 min read
Criminal Law in British Columbia: When Do I Need a Defense Lawyer?

Sometimes in trying to appear innocent we neglect our self-interest. Until it occurs, the idea of being charged with a criminal offense is far from most people’s minds. Disorientated by their situation, many people do and say the wrong things. They sometimes fail to pay due deference to law enforcement officials or to the court. They sometimes put off hiring a criminal defense lawyer because they don’t want to seem guilty.

When does it become necessary to hire a criminal defense lawyer? Let’s take a look at some of the most common serious offenses.

Marijuana Possession:

People have a predisposition to treat marijuana convictions casually but if you acquire a criminal record, your future work and travel prospects can be jeopardized. Under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, if marijuana is found on your person or if it’s found on your property, you can be charged with possession. The Crown will attempt to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that you had prior knowledge of the substance.

Where quantities do not exceed 30 grams, the maximum penalty for first-time offenders is a $1000 fine and/or six months in jail. In most cases the penalty is more lenient. A criminal defense lawyer can argue against the imposition of a criminal record. Larger quantities however, bring the danger of a trafficking charge.

Fraud and Theft:

Crimes like fraud, theft and breach of trust are taken very seriously by the authorities. They can lead to jail time, even for first-offenses. They may also result in orders of restitution whereby the sum misappropriated must be paid back.

According to criminal law in British Columbia, theft and fraud are defined as commercial crimes in cases where the relevant sums exceed $5,000. Areas covered by commercial crime include employee theft and banking fraud.


Shoplifting charges deal with commercial theft where the value of goods stolen does not exceed $5,000. Although fines and jail time can be imposed, these cases are often resolved with resource to alternative-measure programs, such as community service. A criminal defense lawyer may argue that the imposition of jail time, or a criminal record, may not serve the public good.

Driving Charges:

Failing breathalyzer tests, refusing to pull-over, drunk driving or public endangerment offensives are not to be taken lightly. British Columbia road laws fall under the Motor Vehicle Act. Criminal motor vehicle offenses are defined by the Criminal Code of Canada. Traffic violations result in ticketing. More serious rule-breaking or an accumulation of offensives can lead to suspensions, prohibitions or even criminal charges. In the case of serious driving offenses it is advisable to retain a criminal defense lawyer who can speed up the process and protect your interests.

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