Criminal Lawyers

Fort St. John, Okanagan, Vernon, Kelowna, Yukon, Vancouver

Jeremy Guild is now part of Jeremy brings a lot to our clients in the oil patch, in particular Fort St. John, Dawson Creek and parts of Alberta and Saskatchewan. He has practiced primarily in the area of criminal defence for over 24 years in British Columbia, Yukon, Saskatchewan as well as New Zealand. For over 12 years he was the defence lawyer in the Drug Treatment Court in Vancouver, so he has in-depth knowledge of drug and alcohol tests. He also brings to the practice experience in immigration, family law, debts and contracts. It's great to have him aboard.

Firm Overview

Criminal Defence Lawyers

Jeremy Guild has been a lawyer in British Columbia for more than 24 years. He is dedicated to helping people who face charges such as impaired driving or DUI, drug offences and assault charges. He understands the harm a criminal conviction can cause to your future, and will do everything he can to defend you.

Representing Clients In British Columbia And The Oil Patch

Jeremy understands how difficult it can be to find a lawyer you can trust with your sensitive criminal law matter. When you choose Northern Defence Law, you can rely on them to pursue every available option in an effort to secure the best possible outcome in your case.

Jeremy is proud of his reputation for providing superior client service and achieving outstanding results. When you hire Jeremy he will work directly with you in every aspect of your case. When you have a question, he will answer it personally. When you attend court for your trial, he will be the person standing next to you.

Northern defence law is currently criminal defence lawyer Jeremy Guild. Northern defence law maintains offices in Vancouver, Vernon and Kelowna. We regularly represent clients in Northern British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Yukon, bringing our experience and dedication to them in their own communities. During more than 24 years as a lawyer, he has successfully represented clients throughout British Columbia, the Yukon and the Oil Patch in a broad range of criminal matters, including impaired driving, drug offences, assault and other offences.

We understand how hesitant a person facing criminal charges might be to contact a lawyer for help. When you hire us for your criminal law matter, you can trust us to handle it with the highest level of professionalism and discretion. We know what is at stake in criminal law cases, and the best approach to protecting our clients' interests. We are committed to obtaining the most favourable outcome for you and will pursue every available option in an effort to keep a conviction off your record.

Lawyer Profiles

Fort St. John, Okanagan, Vernon, Kelowna, Yukon, Vancouver

When you are facing charges for a criminal offence, it is important that you have strong representation from a seasoned defence lawyer. At the offices of Northern Defence Law Barristers & Solicitors, we offer our clients almost 50 years of experience in the practice of law.

We focus our practice on defending people charged with crimes in Vernon, Kelowna, Saskatchewan, Fort St. John, Dawson Creek, Whitehorse, and the surrounding areas. Our comprehensive understanding of criminal law and the rights of the accused puts us in a favourable position to protect your interests.

Jeremy S. Guild: Criminal Lawyer
Jeremy S. Guild: Criminal Lawyer

Jeremy S. Guild

With more than 20 years of experience defending people's rights, Jeremy says, "When you are stopped by police ask to call a lawyer before you speak to them, and don’t admit to anything, especially if they ask if you have been drinking. Trying to talk their way out of trouble is what gets so many people into bigger trouble.” He aggressively defends clients before and at trial because a criminal conviction can affect you for life.

Jeremy has practiced primarily in the area of criminal defence for over 24 years. He has represented clients in all levels of court in British Columbia, in the Yukon Territory, in Saskatchewan and in New Zealand. He has recently moved to Vernon and changed the focus of his practice to there, Kelowna and the north, in particular Fort St. John, Dawson Creek, and Peace Country. He also appears in the Yukon, Alberta and Saskatchewan as a visiting lawyer. He has extensive experience in trials. He has been the defence lawyer in the Drug Treatment Court of Vancouver almost since its inception, which gives him in-depth knowledge of alcohol and drug tests and their limitations. He represents people on immigration matters, as well as a variety of other legal and personal issues including family law and contracts. He also acts as general counsel for an international company that specializes in facilitating immigration and citizenship to a variety of countries. Mr. Guild earned his law degree in 1987 in New Zealand and practiced in the litigation division of a national firm for over a year, focussing on criminal and family law, before returning to Canada. He was called to the bar in BC in 1991 and worked with a firm doing federal prosecutions, criminal defence and family law for two years, when he joined the Legal Services Society and worked as a criminal defence lawyer. He was chosen to be the Managing Lawyer of the Vancouver Criminal Clinic leading a team of lawyers and support staff, and did so until opening his own practice in 2002. Since then he has had his own busy criminal practice in Vancouver, representing clients at all levels of court there and in Kelowna, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Yukon and northern BC including Ft. St. John and Dawson Creek. He recently moved to Vernon in the Okanagan and continues to represent people in all locations. Jeremy has been a regular presenter at criminal law courses and conferences in Canada, the United States and in the Caribbean and a past guest lecturer at the Justice Institute, training probation officers about trials and evidence. Born and raised in Alberta, he has been an entrepreneur throughout his life starting, owning and advising a variety of small businesses. He has two children and enjoys an active outdoor lifestyle with his family.

Sample Cases:
  • R. v. R.D. - Calgary Alberta - drug trafficking and proceeds of crime charges withdrawn by prosecutor before trial after being convinced of insurmountable problems. 2015-02-11.
  • R v. D.C - Estevan Saskatchewan - bail obtained on proceeds of crime charges by agreement of crown after lengthy discussions. 2014-12-15.
  • R v. Scott - obtained lowest sentence in Canada for conspiracy to traffic over 100 kg of cocaine.
Areas of Practice
  • 80% Criminal Defense
  • 20% Family, Immigration and other areas Bar Admissions British Columbia, 1991 New Zealand, 1987
  • Canterbury University, Christchurch, New Zealand, LL.B. - 1987
  • Certificate of Equivalency, Canada
  • University of British Columbia, Law School, 1990
Professional Associations and Memberships
  • Trial Lawyers Association -- BC
  • Canadian Association of Drug Treatment Court Professionals
Past Employment Positions
  • Legal Services Society, Lawyer and Managing Lawyer, 1993 - 2002
  • Harris Threlfall O’Neil, Associate, 1991-1993
  • Phillips Shayle George, New Zealand, Associate, 1988-89
  • English
  • Some French and Spanish
Ann Pollak: Criminal Lawyer
Ann Pollak: Criminal Lawyer

Ann Pollak

Ann opened her criminal defense practice in Vancouver in 1990, and is also licensed to practice in Yukon. Since 2007 she has focused her practice on the north, in particular Fort St. John, Dawson Creek, and Peace Country, as well as Yukon. She also appears in Alberta and Northwest Territories as a visiting lawyer.

Ann graduated from Memorial University of Newfoundland in 1980 and then came west. She graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School in 1989 and articled in a criminal law office in Gastown, then opened her own criminal practice. Between 1995 and 2006 she focused on mental health law and prison law, working for non-profit organizations. Since 2006 she has had her own criminal practice in Burnaby.

With more than 20 years of experience defending people's rights, Ann says, "Except in extenuating circumstances, pleading guilty is a rookie mistake." She aggressively defends her clients at trial because a criminal record is yours for life.


  • Bese v. British Columbia (Forensic Psychiatric Institute), [1999] 2 S.C.R. 722 – Charter argument used to change the test for detaining forensic psychiatric patients to a test that values their liberty in the balance against the risk to public safety.
  • May v. Ferndale Institution, 2005 SCC 82 – restored the right of federal prisoners to seek a remedy for unjust imprisonment using habeas corpus.
  • R. v. B., YKSC 10-AP019 (2011) – successful appeal of conviction for impaired driving after accused was denied an adjournment and forced to go to trial without a lawyer.
  • R. v. B., YKTC 09-00278 (2011) – re-trial after successful appeal of conviction for impaired driving; acquitted after cross-examination reduced police officer’s evidence below the threshold required to prove impairment.
  • R. v. B., BCPC 31271 (Fort St. John) (2013) – acquittal on charge of driving while prohibited based on argument that evidence produced to show accused was aware of the prohibition was too confusing to establish that knowledge.
  • R. v. C., BCPC 27464 (Fort St. John) (2007) – single father acquitted of possession for the purpose of trafficking large quantity of marijuana found in his home; his son, a minor, gave evidence that it was his; son not charged.
  • R. v. J., BCPC 201990 (Vancouver) (2012) – accused acquitted in grow-op of 399 marijuana plants; insufficient evidence to establish all the elements of possession or production
  • R. v. S., BCPC 7759 (Burns Lake) (2009) – judicial stay of proceedings after 25-month delay in bringing impaired driving case to trial.
  • R. v. H., BCPC 10068 (Fort Nelson) (2012) – judicial stay of proceedings after nearly 50-month delay in bringing case of assaulting a police officer to trial.
  • R. v. G., BCPC 55290 (Richmond) (2012) – acquittal on charges of dangerous driving, causing a police pursuit, and hit and run, after police evidence identifying the accused successfully challenged.
  • R. v. D., 2010 BCSC 1513 (Terrace) (2010) – successful appeal of conviction for assault and unlawful confinement after trial judge made inappropriate use of statement of co-accused.

Areas of Practice

  • 90% Criminal Defense
  • 10% Administrative

Bar Admissions

  • British Columbia, 1990
  • Yukon Territory, 2009 - 2015 non-practising member


  • York University, Osgoode Hall Law School, North York, Ontario, Canada LL.B. - 1989

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • Trial Lawyers Association -- BC

Past Employment Positions

  • West Coast Prison Justice Society, Lawyer, 2002 - 2006
  • Mental Health Law Program, Lawyer, 1995 - 1999

Criminal Defence Overview

Okanagan, Northern British Columbia,Yukon Saskatchewan Defence Lawyers

A conviction for any type of criminal offence can have a variety of negative effects. In addition to the criminal penalties you face, your employment prospects may also suffer. Your ability to travel freely outside of Canada may also be affected. The only way to avoid these consequences is to avoid the conviction.

No matter what type of criminal charge you face, an experienced criminal defence lawyer can help to ensure that your rights are protected. We are defence lawyers. We defend clients in vernon, Kelowna, Vancouver, Fort St. John, Dawson Creek, Whitehorse, and the surrounding areas against a variety of criminal charges. We also represent clients in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

We Will Come To You.

We regularly represent clients in Vernon, Kelowna, Yukon and Northern British Columbia in criminal defence matters. We routinely travel from our offices in Vernon, Kelowna and Vancouver to meet with clients and attend court. We personally handle every aspect of our clients' cases, and will be there with you every step of the way.

We represent clients in the following criminal defence matters:

Regardless of the charge, We stand by our clients with the same level of dedication.

Assault Charge Lawyer

Fort St. John, Okanagan, Vernon, Kelowna, Yukon, Vancouver

Assault charges are serious matters that require a vigorous defence from a qualified lawyer. A conviction on assault charges can result in significant penalties, which may include fines, probation, prison time and a permanent mark on your criminal record. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the assault, a conviction can get you labelled as a violent person, which could negatively impact your job opportunities and many other aspects of your life.

Under the law assault can occur even when no physical contact is involved. If you say or do something that puts another person in reasonable fear of harm, that can be enough for you to be charged with assault. If you are facing assault charges in Vernon, Kelowna, Fort St. John, Dawson Creek or Whitehorse, you have access to experienced criminal defence counsel, and it is important that you seek our advice as soon as possible.

Dedicated Vernon, Kelowna and the north Assault Defence Lawyer

We are criminal defence lawyer Jeremy Guild. We have successfully defended numerous people against charges for assault arising from a variety of incidents, including the following:

Bar Fight Defence Lawyer

If you are implicated in a bar fight, even if you were simply defending yourself against an attack by another bar patron, you should seek the advice of a criminal defence lawyer immediately. Depending on the unique circumstances of the incident, charges for assault, aggravated assault, assault causing bodily harm and assault with a weapon can all be laid in these cases.

Presenting A Strong Defence In Your Case

Developing an effective defence in the case of a bar fight can get complicated. The participants have usually been drinking, and people's memories are less than reliable. The guilty parties and the lawyers who represent them will try to make it look like someone else was responsible, and some of those fingers will inevitably be pointed at you.

We conduct a thorough examination of your case in an effort to build the strongest defence available. We review police reports, witness statements and any other evidence relevant to your case. We obtain any available surveillance video and use it to support your account of the incident. We are committed to pursuing every available option to secure a positive result on your behalf.

Domestic Assault Charge

When police respond to a call involving domestic violence or relationship violence, chances are very good that someone is going to be removed from the home and not permitted to return. If the police believe that you have harmed or may cause harm to someone in the home, including a spouse, partner, child or parent, you will likely be arrested and may be held until a no contact order is in place.

Even if the alleged victim does not want to press charges, the Crown can still move forward with the case based on injuries, statements, or the observations of other witnesses, including police. It is essential that you have a strong defence from an experienced lawyer with the ability to protect your interests.

We work closely with you to understand your concerns and expectations. Many of our clients simply want to get back home as soon as possible. Others want to avoid a conviction for a violent offence. We approach each case specifically with our client's needs in mind. We analyze the available options and take the available steps to help you reach your goals.

Assault Causing Bodily Harm

We are British Columbia and Yukon criminal defence lawyer Jeremy Guild. We understand how intimidating it can be to face charges for a violent offence. We also understand that there are two sides to every story and that just because the alleged victim suffered a significant injury, that does not mean your actions were not defensible.

Many of the clients we represent in assault cases involving bodily harm were simply defending themselves. Under the law, you have the right to use reasonable force to protect yourself against an attack by another person. We will present the strongest possible case to demonstrate you were simply acting in self defence. If self defence is not a factor in your case, we will work closely with you to fully understand the details of the altercation, how it began, how it escalated, and how we might raise a reasonable doubt about the Crown's case. We will marshal the evidence to build a case in your favour in an effort to avoid a conviction on your record. If the Crown has a sound case against you, we will work with your instructions to negotiate a resolution that best serves your interests.

Assaulting a Police Officer

There are a number of actions that can be considered an assault on a peace officer, and many people do not understand their rights in these matters. Assaulting a peace officer can result in a jail term of up to five years if you are convicted. Be sure that you have an experienced criminal defence lawyer representing you from the start.

Few encounters with the police are ever expected. When people are faced with an intimidating situation, the instinct is to get away, and that can result in hasty and sometimes unwise decisions. When you choose either of us to defend you, we conduct a thorough review of the police reports and other evidence in the case. We work with you to understand exactly what happened and what actions may have led to the charge. These actions may include assaulting a police officer engaged in the performance of his or her duty and assaulting a police officer with the intent to resist arrest or prevent the arrest of another person.

We seize any appropriate opportunity to have the charges against you reduced or dismissed. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may have a defence if the officer was not acting in the course of his or her lawful duty, or if you did not intend to assault the officer. If a defence does not arise on the facts, with your instructions, we will negotiate with Crown prosecutors to reach an agreement that best serves your interests.

Assault With A Weapon

Assault with a weapon is the application of force or the threatened application of force involving the use of a weapon. A conviction for this type of offence can result in a jail term of up to ten years. If you are carrying a weapon when you commit an assault, even if you do not use it, you can still face charges for assault with a weapon. Any object can be a weapon: a bottle, an ashtray, or a chair, for example.

Bats, tools, household utensils and any number of everyday items can all be considered weapons in the eyes of the law. The issue is your intent in possessing the item, and that is often where we start to build your defence. You cannot be convicted of two offences arising from the same action, so you cannot be convicted of both assault and assault with a weapon out of one assault.

If you are facing charges for assault with a weapon or firearms violations, it is important that you have an effective criminal defence lawyer by your side. We are Jeremy Guild, and we have over 25 years of experience as a lawyer. We know that most people who are charged with a crime are decent people who may have made an error in judgment or may have just been in the wrong place at the wrong time. You need help to get out of a bad situation and get your life back on track.

Drug Charge Lawyer

Drug offences are aggressively prosecuted by the Federal Crown, and recent amendments to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act have established mandatory minimum penalties in certain cases. A conviction for any type of drug charge can result in a variety of severe penalties and a criminal record that could have a devastating impact on your future. A drug conviction can end your travel to the United States and other countries, or cost you your job. With so much at stake, it is important that you have strong representation from an effective defence lawyer.

The government’s prosecutors are highly motivated to secure convictions in drug cases. They work hard to build airtight cases against the accused. We have experience defending clients in these matters. We conduct a thorough examination into each case and present the strongest possible defence on your behalf.

We defend clients against all types of drug charges, including the following:

  • Drug possession
  • Possession for the purpose of trafficking (PPT)
  • Drug trafficking
  • Drug manufacturing
  • Marijuana grow operations
  • Proceeds of Crime
  • Yukon Drug Charge Defence Lawyer

Contact our offices to discuss your Vernon, Kelowna, Whitehorse, Fort St. John or Lower Mainland drug charge. We offer a free initial consultation to all new clients. You can reach us by phone at 250-870-9056 or toll free at 800-724-7427, or via email.

Drug Possession Defence Lawyer

Drug possession is an offence that can lead to charges for much more serious crimes depending on the type of substance and the quantity involved. These are serious matters that require the attention of a dedicated defence lawyer who will fight to protect your rights and your freedom.

We are drug possession defence lawyer Jeremy Guild. We have experience representing clients in a broad range of drug possession cases involving marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and other drugs. Our offices are in Vernon, Kelowna and Vancouver, and we travel to defend clients in Northern British Columbia, the Yukon, including Fort St. John, Dawson Creek, Whitehorse and the surrounding areas, and Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Protecting Your Rights In Cases Involving Possession Of Marijuana And Other Illegal Substances

Under the law, a person must have both knowledge of and control over the drugs in order to be found guilty of possession. If someone puts their drugs in your jacket pocket, it can be argued that you had no knowledge of the drugs even though you had physical possession of them at the time the police found them.

We also look carefully at the circumstances under which drugs were discovered. Police must have reasonable and probable grounds for conducting a warrantless search. Even if police had a warrant, the search can be ruled unreasonable if the warrant was not issued properly or the police overstepped the authority provided by the warrant.

Drug Trafficking Defence

A conviction for drug trafficking can result in severe penalties, including a lengthy jail sentence, and will affect your ability to travel abroad, in particular to the USA. In addition, recent changes to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act could place you at risk of mandatory minimum penalties if certain aggravating factors exist. These offences are taken very seriously by Crown prosecutors, and having a reliable defence lawyer representing you is essential.

Depending on the circumstances surrounding your case, you could be charged with drug trafficking or possession for the purpose of trafficking (PPT). Drug trafficking charges are typically laid in cases where the accused has sold or offered to sell a prohibited substance. PPT charges do not require the sale of the drug. A person only needs to be in possession of a large enough quantity. Even a person who has a bag of marijuana to share with friends can be charged with PPT. A person in possession of more than three kilos of a drug will face a separate charge that carries much more serious consequences.

A conviction for trafficking or possession for the purpose of trafficking a Schedule I drug (eg. cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, ecstacy) or more than 3 kg of marijuana or hashish will result in a mandatory minimum 1 year in jail if you are linked to a criminal organisation, if there was violence, if there was a weapon involved, or if you were convicted of certain drug offences within the previous 10 years. The mandatory minimum is 2 years if there were (or could have been) children in the area. No matter how unfair that minimum sentence may be in your case, the judge has no choice but to impose it. The only way to avoid a lengthy jail sentence in such a case is not to be convicted.

A Strong Advocate On Your Side

If you have been arrested for any drug trafficking offence, help is available. We are Okanagan, British Columbia and Yukon defence lawyer Jeremy Guild. We provide assertive, effective defence in drug trafficking cases. Our aim is to present the strongest possible defence on your behalf in an effort to avoid a conviction and keep your record clean.

We work closely with every client to gain a complete understanding of the events leading up to his or her arrest. Sometimes, the searches that led to the discovery of the drug are illegal and vulnerable to challenge in a court of law. If you were the victim of an illegal or unreasonable search, we will take steps to have any resulting evidence excluded at trial.

Marijuana Grow Operations Defence

Drug production of any kind is a very serious offence in Canada. Unlicensed marijuana grow operations, or grow ops, continue to be a major focus of Crown prosecutors, police and other agencies. Recent changes to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act allow for mandatory minimum penalties that can escalate depending on the number of plants, possession for the purpose of trafficking and the existence of any aggravating factors. If you have been charged with a crime related to growing marijuana, you should seek the advice of a qualified defence lawyer immediately.

A conviction for production of marijuana will result in a mandatory minimum jail sentence of anywhere from 6 to 36 months, depending on the number of plants and the involvement of certain aggravating factors. If there are more than 500 plants, you are looking at serving 2 years or more in a federal penitentiary. No matter how unfair the minimum sentence is in your case, the judge has no choice but to impose it if you are found guilty. The only way to avoid the minimum sentence in these cases is not to be convicted.

We are criminal defence lawyer Jeremy Guild. In any case involving a marijuana grow operation, the Crown is prepared to dedicate nearly unlimited resources to the prosecution of your case. We will provide the aggressive defence you need to ensure that your rights and your freedom are protected.

Holding Law Enforcement Accountable

There are specific rules and procedural requirements that police and other law enforcement officials must follow in the process of conducting their investigations. Any departure from those rules can constitute a violation of your Charter rights. An effective lawyer will argue for the exclusion of any evidence that was obtained as a result of such constitutional violations.

In every case, we closely examine the search warrants that were approved during the investigation and the authority they provided. If police overstepped the limitations of the warrant or if the warrant was issued without sufficient grounds or was flawed in any way, we will seek to have any resulting evidence excluded at trial.

In every case, our only concern is to protect your rights and your freedom. We conduct a thorough review of all the evidence in the Crown's case, looking for flaws that can be used to your advantage at trial. We develop the strongest possible defence on your behalf and pursue every available option in an effort to avoid a conviction in your case.

Impaired Driving Defence Lawyer

If you face charges for a drunk driving offence, it is important to seek the advice of a qualified impaired driving defence lawyer right away. For many people, a stop on suspicion of impaired driving is their first encounter with the law. They wrongly assume that they have no choice but to plead guilty and accept the consequences. Nothing could be further from the truth.

There are a number of defence strategies that can be used to challenge the Crown's case and the evidence intended to be used against you. We are criminal defence lawyer Jeremy Guild. We have extensive experience resolving a broad range of impaired driving matters. We are available to represent clients throughout BC and Yukon, and in particular, have represented clients in the Peace Country, including Fort St. John, Dawson Creek, Chetwynd and the surrounding areas. We are also able to represent clients in Grande Prairie and other areas of Alberta as a visiting lawyer.

Committed To A Favourable Outcome In Your Case

With every client we serve, we conduct a thorough review of the Crown's case. If we find any indication that your Charter rights were violated during the investigation, we will fight to exclude from the case any evidence that was obtained improperly. We pursue any opportunity to have the charges against you legitimately reduced or dismissed.

We have successfully represented clients in a variety of different cases related to impaired driving, including the following:


We are committed to your freedom and the preservation of your rights. We know how you value your driver's licence. We will not recommend a plea agreement unless we believe it is in your best interests to accept one.

Impaired Driving Defence Lawyer Serving Whitehorse, Fort St. John, Dawson Creek And Grande Prairie Contact our offices to discuss your impaired driving defence needs. We offer a free initial consultation so you can get honest answers to your questions and learn more about how we can help you.

DUI Lawyer

Drunk driving offences are very serious matters that require the attention of a skilled defence lawyer. A conviction for Impaired Driving or Over .08 goes on your Criminal Record, and results in minimum penalties that include the loss of your licence. Recent changes to the Motor Vehicle Act in British Columbia have resulted in licence suspensions, and other costly penalties even if no criminal charges are laid, and more severe penalties for people who are convicted of impaired driving and related offences. If you are convicted of a second or subsequent impaired driving offence, the administrative penalties increase substantially, and there is a mandatory minimum jail sentence.

I am defence lawyer Ann Pollak. I have defended clients in the Yukon and Northern British Columbia, including people accused of drunk driving offences in Whitehorse, Fort St. John and Dawson Creek. In DUI cases, I work to present the strongest possible defence in an effort to avoid a conviction on your record. Common Types Of Drunk Driving Offences

Impaired driving over .05: Many people believe that they are in the clear if their blood alcohol concentration is below .08. Under the new Immediate Roadside Prohibitions (IRP) law in BC, however, if you are found to have a blood alcohol concentration between .05 and .08 you could receive an immediate driving prohibition. Other penalties follow, including financial penalties, a requirement that you complete the Responsible Driver Program (at a cost of about $900), and a requirement that you install the ignition interlock device in any vehicle you drive, whether for work or personal use.

Impaired driving over .08: Your first conviction for over .08 results in a mandatory minimum $1,000 fine and a one-year, Canada-wide driving prohibition. For your second conviction there is a mandatory minimum jail sentence. I closely examine the Crown's case and challenge any evidence that may have been obtained in violation of your rights. I also consider whether the instrument that tested your blood alcohol was giving accurate readings.

Drug-related impaired driving: Alcohol is not the only thing that can impair a person's ability to drive in the eyes of the law. If you are under the influence of any type of drug, even a prescription drug, you could face charges for impaired driving.

Impaired driving causing bodily harm/impaired driving causing death: These offences commonly result in imprisonment if you are convicted. These charges require special handling because there is a victim, and often considerable pressure from the community to get a conviction.

Driver's Licence Suspension Lawyer

Sometimes referred to as driving prohibitions, driver's licence suspensions can come about in many different ways, including an impaired driving charge or unsatisfactory driving record. Not only does the loss of your driving privileges create personal hardship, it can also come with substantial monetary penalties that must be paid before you can resume driving.

If your licence has been suspended, you do have options. You have the right to request a review by the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles in an effort to have a roadside driving prohibition revoked. The assistance of a British Columbia lawyer in effectively presenting your case to challenge a licence suspension can be invaluable.

Act Now To Protect Your Rights

Typically the Prohibition takes effect immediately. You only have seven days after receiving your Notice of Driving Prohibition to request a review. At the offices of Northern Defence Law Barristers & Solicitors, we provide comprehensive representation to people facing the loss of their driving privileges. We take the time to explain the possible grounds for requesting a review and give you an honest assessment regarding the viability of your case. If you decide to move forward with the review, we will help you through the process of requesting a review and preparing the necessary documentation.

Driving prohibition reviews can be done in writing or over the phone. Most of them are done in writing. We will advise you on how to submit your Application for Review, and we will prepare the written submission to support your case. Challenging a driving prohibition can be difficult, so it is worthwhile to speak to a lawyer about a possible review. We offer a free initial consultation during which we can discuss your case. We can make use of established law to make the most of the gaps or weaknesses in the case against you.

Over .08 Offences

Drunk driving offences involving the operation of a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above .08 are taken very seriously in Canada. A conviction for a first offence results in a minimum $1,000 fine and a mandatory driving prohibition of one year. Over .08 offences involving accidents that result in bodily injury or the death of another person can lead to much more severe penalties.

If you are facing charges for impaired driving, or over .08, it is important that you have a trusted lawyer representing you. We are criminal defence lawyers Ann Pollak and Jeremy Guild. We have built expertise in defending clients in British Columbia and Yukon against charges for over .08 offences. We have also defended clients in Alberta as visiting counsel in these cases.

Building A Strong Defence In Your Case

There are a number of effective defence strategies that can be pursued in over .08 cases. When you choose either of us to represent you, we will conduct a thorough examination of your case. We work to identify any flaws in the Crown's evidence that can be used to strengthen your defence.

Depending on the circumstances of your situation, the following issues can be challenged in an over .08 case:

  • The officer's grounds for the initial traffic stop
  • The accuracy of the approved screening device (ASD) that was used to measure your BAC at roadside or the breathalyzer at the police station
  • Whether you were offered a second test if you blew a "fail" on the first test
  • Results of the breathalyzer tests at the police station

Roadside Sobriety Tests

Roadside screening is often part of impaired driving investigations in Canada. The evidence gathered through these tests may form part of the grounds for the breathalyzer demand. In some cases, however, the methods used can be flawed and may provide inaccurate results. If you are facing charges for any type of drunk driving offence, be sure that you have legal representation from a lawyer who will recognize and challenge bad evidence.

We are British Columbia and Yukon lawyers Ann Pollak and Jeremy Guild. We have a substantial background defending clients against all types of impaired driving charges. We understand the laws that govern how police officers must conduct their investigations and know how to assert the rights of the people being investigated. We are committed to seeing that your rights are respected and that you are not convicted of an offence based on evidence that was improperly obtained.

Roadside Testing In Impaired Driving Cases

Police in British Columbia do not usually employ field sobriety tests in drunk driving investigations. Typically, police officers will observe physical indicators of alcohol consumption, such as redness in the eyes or flushed cheeks, and these are advanced as grounds for the officer to request a breath sample. These symptoms could have been caused by something other than alcohol, however, such as fatigue or high blood pressure.

At roadside, breath samples may be collected using an approved screening device (ASD) and will return a result of pass, warn or fail. A "fail" result is sometimes used as grounds to detain the individual for additional breath testing at a police station. It may be possible to challenge the results if it can be shown that the ASD was not properly calibrated or that the device was not used correctly.

Refusing to provide a breath sample is a criminal offence. A defence could be presented to dispute the refusal charge if the officer did not have grounds to request the sample. In addition, if there were no grounds for the officer to request the breath sample, all evidence related to the sample might be excluded.

Legal Articles

Right To Silence

Last week the Supreme Court of Canada reversed a decision that the Manitoba Court of Appeal made in May 2013 (R. v. Koczab, 2013 MBCA 43). For criminal lawyers, it's an interesting decision on the concept of psychological detention of a suspect during what started out as a routine traffic stop for speeding, and ended up with a bust for 17 kilograms of cocaine. For the rest of the public, especially drivers, it's a clinic on the right to silence.

The way the officer slowly gathers information from the driver puts me in mind of the story that supposedly if you drop a frog in hot water it will jump out, but if you put it in cool water and heat it up gradually, you get a boiled frog. In this case, the driver was stopped for speeding, but there was some irregularity with the address for his licence, and one thing led to another, mostly because the driver kept offering more information than the questions called for.

Asked if he would mind answering a few more questions, the driver replied, "Yeah go ahead." When the officer asked, "What's in the suitcases?" the driver said, "Clothes," and invited the officer to look. Nothing of interest in the suitcases in the back seat, but the officer noted that the carpeting on the floor near the suitcases had been altered. More questions, and after the officer discreetly called for back-up, he found the mother lode of cocaine in a hidden compartment.

The lesson is that you have a right to silence: use it. This driver probably thought he was helping himself by playing it cool, cooperating with the officer, and engaging in polite conversation. But his polite conversation is what caused the officer to keep digging and gave the officer the opportunity to notice something unusual about the carpet.

When you are stopped by police, it's normal to answer a few questions, and you might find it wise and reasonable to do so, but there is no reason at all to offer more conversation than necessary. The police might have grounds to ask to search you or your vehicle, but do not ever, ever, invite police to look in your vehicle, in your pockets, in your suitcase, in your phone, or in your house. Just as a matter of principle, you should draw the line at safeguarding your privacy, even if you have nothing to hide. As they say, if you have nothing to hide, why are you wearing pants? It's reasonable to expect the police to respect your privacy, and it doesn't make you guilty of anything.

If you are pulled over by police, provide your name, licence, registration for your vehicle. If the officer does not tell you why you have been stopped, ask. Do not volunteer why you think you were stopped. Say as little as possible. Do not chat. If the questioning continues, ask, "Am I free to go?" If you are not, then you have a right to call a lawyer, and a right to silence. If you say you want to call a lawyer, the police have to hold off further questions until you have exercised that right, so stop talking.

Silence is golden.

Contact my office to discuss your assault charge defence needs. I offer a free initial consultation where you can get honest answers to your questions and learn more about how I can help you. You can reach me by phone at 250-870-9056 or toll free at 800-724-7427, or via email.

Senior Canadian lawyers call for exemptions to mandatory minimum sentences

Mandatory minimum sentences have found favour with legislators around the globe, and Canada is no exception. However, a group of senior Canadian lawyers is recommending that there be statutory exemptions to such sentences.

We are marking the anniversary of new mandatory minimum prison sentences in Canada for certain crimes, including particular drug offences and gun offences. Criminal defence lawyers have long criticized mandatory minimums. Nevertheless, Canada's Justice Minister defends the approach and is resisting calls for exemptions.

Mandatory minimum sentences are also being challenged in the courts. A British Columbia Provincial Court judge has ruled that a mandatory minimum prison term was unconstitutional in a case where a man with no criminal record was convicted of a gun offence.

Lawyers' group criticizes mandatory minimum sentencing at meeting in Victoria

The Uniform Law Conference of Canada, a group of senior lawyers from across the country - including both criminal defence counsel and Crown prosecutors - recommended exemptions to mandatory minimum sentences at their August meeting in Victoria, British Columbia.

The group, which argues that mandatory minimum sentences fail to allow for the proper exercise of judicial discretion, noted that unlike other Commonwealth countries, Canada does not have statutory exemptions to the minimums. Those exemptions in other countries can be invoked to remedy the unjust application of mandatory minimums.

The Lawyers Weekly, a national newspaper serving the legal profession, reported at the time that federal Justice Minister Peter MacKay opposes such exemptions and defends his government's implementation of mandatory minimum sentencing for offences that are considered "abhorrent and corrosive to society."

British Columbia judge rules mandatory minimum sentence for gun offence unconstitutional

Mandatory minimum sentences are also a concern for some Canadian judges. A British Columbia Provincial Court judge ruled that a three-year mandatory minimum prison sentence for a gun offence violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, in particular the principles of fundamental justice, and the right to be free of cruel and unusual punishment. The judge found that the minimum was "harsh, or excessive, or even unfit for this individual applicant." The accused, who had been convicted of possession of a loaded and prohibited firearm, had no criminal record, was making child support payments, and was employed as an apprentice electrician.

A Manitoba judge also found the minimums offended the Charter of Rights for similar reasons, and also added that they offend the right to equal treatment before the law. Now the Ontario Court of Appeal has found that the mandatory minimum sentence for unauthorised possession of a prohibited or restricted firearm amounts to cruel and unusual punishment because the severity of the sentence may not match the harm of the offence. The court noted that the prosecution does not have to prove that any harm was likely to result from possession of the firearm, and envisioned circumstances in which a person could be in possession of a prohibited or restricted firearm without presenting any risk of harm.

Anyone arrested or charged in relation to a criminal offence - including a gun or drug offence - is strongly advised to retain defence counsel. At all stages of the criminal justice process, from arrest through trial (and sentencing, where relevant), an experienced lawyer can protect the interests of the accused and mount a strong defence, based on the unique facts of the case. The existence of mandatory minimum sentences for certain offences increases the importance of securing proper legal representation.

Serious consequences of “DUI” or impaired driving conviction

The law imposes serious consequences on drivers who are charged with driving under the influence in Canada. One instance of poor judgment can mean the loss of a livelihood for a driver. There are severe penalties for drivers found guilty of impaired driving, including lengthy driving prohibitions. Whether the Crown proceeds summarily or by indictment depends on the severity of the circumstances.


The Crown will charge these matters in pairs: impaired driving and either driving with excessive blood alcohol (known as "over 80"), or refusing to provide a sample. Impaired driving is made out when the ability to operate a motor vehicle or vessel is impaired due to the presence of alcohol or drugs in the body. Driving over 80 refers to a blood alcohol content (BAC) above 80 mg of alcohol per 100 mL of blood (or 80 mg%). A conviction for refusal can only occur if the demand was lawful to begin with. These charges fall under the Criminal Code of Canada and conviction will result in a lifetime criminal record.


A first conviction results in a mandatory $1,000 fine, and a Court-imposed driving prohibition for one year throughout Canada. A second offence within 10 years results in a minimum 30-day jail term. Subsequent convictions result in minimum jail sentences of 120 days. For summary convictions, there is a maximum jail time of 18 months. The Superintendent of Motor Vehicles must also impose a prohibition of 12 months.

Driving while prohibited will result in further penalties. Fines under the Criminal Code and the Motor Vehicle Act can range from $500 to $5,000, and subsequent offences will result in jail time and further driving prohibitions. In British Columbia, the prohibition is absolute. In Alberta, the last half of the driving prohibition may permit driving with an Interlock device.

Immediate Roadside Prohibitions (IRP)

In British Columbia, if a driver tests in the "Fail" range (over 80 mg%) on an Approved Screening Device at a roadside stop, there will be an immediate 90-day driving prohibition imposed by the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles, as well as a 30-day vehicle impoundment (even if it is someone else's vehicle), a requirement to take the Responsible Driver Program, installation of the Interlock Device on every vehicle driven including work vehicles, and about $3750 in fees and penalties.

Many British Columbians do not realise that there are also penalties for driving with a BAC under 80 mg%. The Superintendent imposes a driving prohibition on drivers who are found to have a BAC between 50 and 80 mg% (the "Warn" range) at a roadside stop. A police officer can issue a driving suspension of between 3 and 30 days, and there may also be a vehicle impoundment, required participation in the Responsible Driver Program, installation of the Interlock Device, as well as fees and penalties totalling $600-3650.

As of mid-April 2013, the Superintendent has agreed that the law requires the exercise of discretion in the requirement for the Responsible Driver Program and the Interlock Device. Now, more than ever, it is important for drivers facing these penalties to seek legal advice. You only have 7 days to file a dispute of an IRP, so do not delay.

Find a lawyer

The breathalyzer makes mistakes. Drivers accused of DUI do not have to plead guilty to the charges. If you are facing impaired driving charges in British Columbia, Yukon, the Oil Patch and parts of Alberta, finding a lawyer who has experience helping those accused of DUI is the best option. Don't take a plea deal until you speak to an experienced lawyer who is dedicated to protecting your future.

New law for self-defence and defence of property

New Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act is in effect as of Monday, March 11, 2013. It introduces a new concept to the law in Canada: arrest within a reasonable time. It also aims to simplify the self-defence sections, which have given rise to some of the most mind-bending legal reasoning in Canadian law.

Prior to these amendments, the law of self-defence was a tangled bramble bush of special considerations, such as whether the accused provoked the attack, or reasonably believed his or her life was in danger, and whether the use of force was no more than necessary. This language has been greatly simplified to consider whether the accused's actions were "reasonable in the circumstances."

The words defining self-defence might be simpler, but the interpretation and application of those words might prove to be just as difficult as the previous bramble bush. Time will tell.

Until now, any private citizen had the power to arrest someone caught in the act of committing a crime in relation to the private citizen's property, but there was no power to do so after the fact.

In recent years some cases attracted a lot of attention because of this law. In 2009, a Toronto storeowner pursued a shoplifter, chasing him down the street to arrest him, and was himself charged with assault and forcible confinement. Although we have yet to see how the courts will interpret "arrest within a reasonable time," likely that storeowner would not have been charged under the new law.

We could expect that a "reasonable time" will be longer in more remote locations, where the police response time might be expected to be longer. Which law applies to cases that are already before the courts is a matter for the lawyers to work out.

Ann Pollak is a criminal defence lawyer in Burnaby who represents clients in Peace Country and Yukon.