Legal Services

Ferguson Allingham is a Criminal Defence firm. Our lawyers handle all types of criminal cases from murder to theft to motor vehicle offences. We also act in civil matters and appear before administrative tribunals. We have appeared in every level of court in BC, and in courtrooms across the country. With six lawyers, an articled student, and dedicated staff, we pursue our clients’ best interests at all times.

 

Criminal Law

Our lawyers handle all types of criminal cases from murder to theft to motor vehicle offences.

Administrative Law

We appear before administrative tribunals.

Civil Law

We defend clients facing forfeiture of homes or property.

 


Criminal Law

What can we help you with?

If you have been charged with a crime under the Criminal Code or with a crime involving drugs; are charged with driving offences under the Motor Vehicle Act; or if you are facing forfeiture of money or property we can help you. Your case is unique, and depends upon the facts particular to your situation.

Specific matters

These are given as general examples only. Professional advice will assist in determining the applicability to your case:

 

Theft under/ Fraud/ Breach of Trust

This involves the taking of another person’s property, even temporarily, without the right to do so. It may also involve taking something – an item or money – one has a right to take, but then using it for purposes to one’s own advantage in a way that deprives the original owner of the use or value of the item or funds. A breach of trust occurs when one is in a position of trust and uses that position to either steal or defraud their employer of money or property. This occurs, for example, when an employee takes money from a till. The defences can include the denial of a person’s involvement, or that a person had a right to whatever was taken or converted.

Robbery

This is when violence or threats accompany a theft. It is more serious when a weapon is involved in taking property or money from another. The defences can include the denial of the event or of a person’s involvement. This offence includes the offence of theft itself so it can also be argued there was only a theft, but no threats or violence.

Assault (from domestic violence to sex assault)

This involves any unwanted contact, or contact without consent up to and including contact that results in serious injury. When done with a weapon it is assault with a weapon. Assaults causing injury may result in charges of assault causing bodily harm or aggravated assault. Defences to this category of charges can include a consent fight to self-defence, to defence in the assistance of a person one is under obligation to defend.

Sex Assault

Unconsented contact of a sexual nature can result in a charge for sex assault. This can be the case even where the contact was initially consensual but further contact is not consented to. Defences can range from a denial the incident occurred; that the activity was by consent; or that one was honestly mistaken as to whether there was consent. Defence of this category of charge is complicated by a number of exceptional rules of evidence which must be handled professionally while always advancing the client’s defence.

Murder

Is charged when a person causes the death of another when they intended to do so, or where a person causes harm to another that he/she knows is likely to result in death and is reckless as to whether death results. Murder may also be charged where, in the course of engaging in an unlawful act, a person does anything to another that he/she knows is likely to cause death and where a death does occur. Defences can include a denial of one’s involvement in the incident at all, or denial in participation in all aspects of the incident(s) that resulted in the wrongful death. There can be various defences based on what was intended that can be used to argue the crime committed may have been manslaughter rather than second degree murder, or second degree murder rather than first.

Weapons offences (including firearms)

Charges in this category range from unlawful storage of a firearm or possession of a prohibited weapon to possession of a loaded, restricted firearm. One can be convicted of carrying a weapon for a purpose dangerous where, for example, a knife is carried by a person whose purpose in carrying the knife is dangerous to the public peace or for the commission of an offence. Potential defences can include that one carried the weapon for self-defence alone, or that the item in question was not possessed as a weapon, but for some other purpose like work, for example.

With firearms one cannot possess legal ones without the appropriate licence, or by storing them in the lawfully approved way. The defences involved in firearms possession cases can be that a person did not know about the firearm, or have any control over the place it is found in, and, therefore, did not possess the firearm. As with drug offences, possession offences often involve challenges to the constitutionality of the search made by the police that uncovered the firearm. These arguments, which may include attacking the lawfulness of a search warrant, are usually complex and require familiarity with arguing breaches of the Charter of Rights. While not a direct defence to the charge, if successful, it can result in the exclusion of the firearm from consideration as evidence in the trial and therefore result in the charges being dropped or an acquittal due to lack of evidence.

Drug Possession

Simple possession involves possession of drugs for personal use. Possession for the purposes of trafficking is when drugs are possessed for the purpose of selling. In both cases, possession must be proved, but where it is alleged that possession was for the purposes of trafficking additional facts, like the amount of drug or drugs found, or the way they are packaged, must prove that possession was for sale or distribution and not personal use.

The defences involved in drug possession cases can be that a person did not know about the drugs, or have any control over the drugs or the place they are found in, and, therefore, did not possess the drugs. Drug possession offences often involve challenges to the constitutionality of the search made by the police that uncovered the drugs. These arguments, which may include attacking the lawfulness of a search warrant, are usually complex and require familiarity with arguing breaches of the Charter of Rights. While not a direct defence to the charge, if successful, it can result in the exclusion of the drugs from consideration as evidence in the trial and therefore result in the charges being dropped or an acquittal due to lack of evidence.

Drug Trafficking

Involves the actual sale or distribution of drugs whether or not one receives money for the drugs. Defences include a denial of involvement in the allegations or that drugs were possessed but were for personal use.

Production of Marijuana, Ecstasy, or Methamphetamine

These offences generally involve persons found at or in buildings housing grow operations, drug labs, or where information may link them to these places. Active participation in growing the plants, producing the synthetic drugs, or knowledge of the operation and control of access to the operation must be proven. Defences can include that a person was simply found at a place that contains a grow operation or lab but was not involved; that one did not know a grow operation or lab existed at a place they were found at; or that there is insufficient evidence of a person’s connection to a grow operation or lab producing drugs.

These cases very frequently involve defences based on the Charter of Rights including attacking search warrants, the manner in which the search was conducted, and various other issues and may result in all evidence seized being excluded. Where this is the case the charges are either dropped or the court will find the accused person not guilty.

Impaired Driving / over .08

If you are pulled over by the police at roadside and ultimately fail a breathalyzer test at the police station you will be charged with both of these offences. Impaired driving requires that it be proved that your ability to drive is impaired by alcohol or drugs, while the driving with a blood/alcohol ratio of 0.08.

These cases are defended often by attacking the steps taken in the investigation to ensure that the Police did not violate a person’s Charter rights. If they did, the remedy granted may be that the breath result is excluded from evidence and therefore there is no evidence of a person’s blood/alcohol level. The impaired charge can be defended by attacking the accuracy and number of observations of bad driving, or pointing out the lack of such observations.

Immediate Roadside Prohibitions (IRP)

These have become quite frequent since their introduction a few years ago. These do not result in a criminal conviction, but they do have serious consequences. A review under the Motor Vehicle Act can be done and the defences can include that it cannot be shown that you were the person driving at the time of the alleged infraction; that you were not offered a second test; that the roadside screening device reading was inaccurate whether due to improper use or recent alcohol consumption. Further, assistance can be provided in retrieving vehicles from the impound and with penalties that may arise subsequent to the IRP.

 

You have been charged with one of these crimes or any other, what will we do for you?

Intake interview:
We will meet with you, provide a preliminary assessment and an explanation of the process so that you can understand both the way the process will unfold, and what your possible outcomes are. We will also provide you with the details of retaining us to act for you. Initial consultations lasting 30 minutes are done without charge.

Once you have decided to retain us to act on your behalf:

Negotiations with Crown:
In the earliest stages, we will contact and engage in discussions with the Prosecutor or the Police. Early intervention can result in an early and advantageous resolution to your problem, or it could result in charges not being laid in the first place. We can also advise on what to do when the Police are looking for you and want a statement.
Bail:
We will assist you in obtaining release if you have been arrested.
Trial:
We will attend court with you, or on your behalf, and set a date for trial. We will meet with you and thoroughly discuss your case. You will be advised of the case against you and have the various ways of proceeding explained to you so that you make the right decision on how to proceed. If you choose to go to trial, you will have an experienced litigator on your side who will explain the process and who will ensure that your rights are protected and interests are served throughout.
Sentencing:
I you have been convicted after trial or if you have decided to plead guilty, we will make submissions to the court on your behalf, gather materials to support your case, and attempt to obtain the best result possible.

 


 

Administrative Law

Governments establish agencies that specialize in regulating many aspects of our lives. This includes regulating motor vehicle licensing, businesses, trades, professions and other matters. Though they are not courts of law, these agencies make decisions and hold hearings that can have a dramatic impact on your day-to-day life, including your ability to drive a vehicle or pursue your business, employment, trade or profession.

We have extensive experience dealing with these administrative bodies at all levels: making submissions prior to a decision; appealing from decisions already made; appearing at hearings to represent your interests before the tribunals; or seeking review in Court of decisions made by these government agencies.

 


 

Civil Law

Civil Forfeiture

Civil forfeiture is the provincial government’s controversial law that allows them to take people’s property as “instruments of unlawful activity” or “proceeds of unlawful activity.” The provincial government will seek forfeiture even when there has been no criminal charges laid or, in many cases, where a client has been acquitted of any criminal charges.

Because a civil forfeiture proceeding operates under civil law, the government faces a much lower burden of proof than in a criminal prosecution. A defendant in a civil case against the government also loses many of the constitutional protections that an accused in a criminal case has.

If you are faced with a civil forfeiture proceeding, it is essential to move quickly to retain experienced counsel to defend you and your property. We will help you at every step of the way, from meeting initial filing deadlines, to gathering the evidence you need to protect your property, to representing you at trial.

 

 

Do you have questions about your legal situation?