In British Columbia, criminal investigations are conducted by police departments. But the decision to charge somebody with a crime is made by the Crown prosecutor’s office.
The Crown uses a two-part test to decide whether to launch- and maintain – a criminal case. First, does the admissible evidence give rise to a substantial likelihood of conviction? (This criterion looks at the strength of the case.) Second, is it in the public interest to prosecute?
The lawyers at Martland & Saulnier regularly engage with the police, in the course of their investigation. We may obtain information and insights about the evidence, and we can advocate for our clients both with respect to the investigation, and any decisions to arrest or hold a suspect. Likewise, we often engage with Crown counsel as they decide whether to approve criminal charges. Sometimes the Crown is unaware of defences, evidence issues, or information about our client that will influence their decision to charge. At this early stage, we can advise our client about decisions such as whether to speak to police and whether to do a polygraph (lie-detector) test.
If you become aware of a criminal investigation, it makes sense to get a lawyer at an early stage. Martland & Saulnier is well-placed to help.