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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. B.J. – Downtown Community Court

Charge: Theft of property of a value not exceeding $5,000
Issue: Whether there was a substantial likelihood of conviction and whether it was in the public interest to proceed with the prosecution.
Result: Mr. Johnston identified weaknesses in the available video evidence which persuaded the Crown to direct a stay of proceedings on the charge. No jail. No criminal record.

R. vs. A.M. = Vancouver Provincial Court

Charges: Assault with a Weapon; Assault Causing Bodily Harm.
Issue: Whether there was a substantial likelihood of conviction and whether it was in the public interest to proceed with the prosecution.
Result: Mr. Johnston provided Crown counsel with information about our client’s circumstances, including his lack of prior criminal offending, his efforts at rehabilitation, and the fact that a conviction for either offence could result in the client’s deportation, an outcome which Mr. Johnston argued would be disproportionate to the seriousness of alleged offences. At the same time, Mr. Johnston pointed out weaknesses in the evidence against our client. The Crown directed stays of proceedings on both charges. No jail. No criminal record.

R. vs. A.V. – Vancouver Provincial Court

Charges: Uttering Threats x3; Criminal Harassment; Breach of Release Order (domestic).
Issue: Whether there was a substantial likelihood of conviction and whether it was in the public interest to proceed with the prosecution of these matters.
Result: Mr. Gauthier was able to persuade Crown counsel that it was more appropriate to deal with these matters in the context of Family Court. Ultimately Crown did not approve the uttering threats and criminal harassment charges and Mr. Gauthier persuaded Crown that there was no public interest in prosecuting the breach charge and to enter a stay of proceedings. No jail. No criminal record.

R. vs. K.L. – Terrace RCMP Investigation

Charges: Assault.
Issue: 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 presented additional information to Crown counsel which resulted in Crown  declining to approve any charge.  No criminal record.

R. vs. O.P. – Victoria Provincial Court

Charges: Voyeurism; Criminal harassment.
Issue: Whether Crown could prove that our client actually recorded and distributed images without consent of the complainant.
Result: Mr. Gauthier was able to persuade Crown counsel to proceed only on the criminal harassment charge. After hearing Mr. Gauthier's submissions, the trial judge granted our client a conditional sentence order with a curfew for two months. No jail.

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

Charges: Indecent Act; Assault With a Weapon; Possessing of a Weapon for Dangerous Purpose (x2); Robbery; Uttering Threats; Theft of Property of a Value not Exceeding $5,000.
Issue: Whether there was a substantial likelihood of conviction and whether it was in the public interest to proceed with prosecution of all counts; whether a jail sentence was appropriate.
Result: Mr. Johnston identified weaknesses in the evidence which persuaded the Crown there was no reasonable prospect of conviction on the Indecent Act charge.  Mr. Johnston persuaded Crown counsel  to resolve the case on three of the remaining counts and to stay all remaining charges. After hearing Mr. Johnston's submissions regarding our client's personal circumstances and his significant rehabilitation efforts,  the Court agreed to release our client from custody and to place him on a probation order with conditions supporting his rehabilitation. No further jail time.

R. vs. M.G. – RCMP Investigation

Charges: Possession for the purpose of trafficking.
Issue: Whether there was a substantial likelihood that Crown could establish that our client was a willing participant in the alleged drug trafficking scheme.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to provide information and persuade police to not seek any criminal charges against our client. No No charges were approved. Our client's vehicle was retuned. No criminal record.

R. vs. A.K. – New Westminster Provincial Court

Charges: Assault.
Issue: Whether there was a reasonable likelihood of a conviction and whether it was in the public interest to proceed.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to provide additional information and persuaded Crown counsel stay the charge upon our client completing the Alternative Measures Program. No criminal record.  

R. vs. K.L. – Vancouver Police Investigation

Charge: Assault Peace Officer.
Issue: Whether there was a substantial likelihood of a conviction in this case which involved an alleged assault of a police officer.
Result: Mr. Gauthier provided information and a video to Crown counsel which showed that the police made an unlawful arrest thereby giving our client lawful grounds to defend himself. Mr. Gauthier was able to persuade Crown to not approve any charges. No criminal record.

R. vs. C.D. – Vernon Provincial Court

Charges: Assault with a weapon; Mischief to property.
Issues: Whether there was a substantial likelihood of a conviction and whether it was in the public interest to proceed with the criminal prosecution in this case where our client allegedly intentionally collided with the complainant's vehicle.
Result: Mr. Gauthier provided additional information to Crown counsel and was able to persuade Crown to resolve this matter with a s.810 Recognizance (Peace Bond).    

R. vs. R.V. – Surrey Provincial Court

Charge: Driving While Prohibited.
Issue: Given our client's circumstances and the circumstances in which he drove, whether it was in the public interest to proceed with the charge.
Result: Mr. Mines presented our client's background information to Crown and was able to persuade Crown to procceed on the lesser charge of Driving without a valid drivers' licence. Rather than a 12 month minimum driving prohibition, our client was sentenced to a nighttime driving prohibition from 10 pm to 6 am.

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

Charges: Attempted Breaking and Entering; Breaking and Entering.
Issue: Whether our client could be released on bail given the Crown's concerns about our client's potential to commit further offences.
Result: Mr. Johnston worked with our client to develop a plan which ultimately persuaded Crown to consent to his release on reasonable conditions, even though our client was alleged to have committed these offences while already on bail with numerous other charges, including several counts of breaking and entering.

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.