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Factors to Consider When Choosing a Vancouver Criminal Defence Lawyer

A criminal investigation might make you feel like your whole life has been turned upside down. It is a highly stressful and crucial period of life for any person. Feelings of anxiety and loneliness are expected during this period since you don’t know what the future holds. You must have an experienced Vancouver criminal defense lawyer on your side while fighting for your freedom and establishing your innocence. However, selecting a lawyer may be intimidating if you don’t know where to begin or what to look for. Several significant criteria should be taken into account while deciding on a lawyer. This decision may make or break the result of your legal matter. Here are a few things to keep in mind.


Is the lawyer you are considering competent and skilled in criminal defense? Many civil lawyers profess to be criminal defense attorneys, but this is not always the case. Do not entrust your criminal case to civil counsel. Invest in the most acceptable criminal defense counsel you can afford. As a citizen, you deserve the best criminal defense lawyer in Vancouver, BC, to safeguard your rights and reputation.

Level of Experience

Being accused of committing a crime is a serious matter that requires careful consideration. Choosing an attorney is an important decision because you want to ensure that the person representing and advising you is well-versed in the law. If your lawsuit gets tried in many courts (local, state, federal, and supreme), you will want an attorney with expertise in all of these levels of government.

The success rate is just as significant as the amount of skill. Experience without results is nothing when dealing with the repercussions of a criminal act. The most effective lawyer has a proven track record of success.


Before beginning your search, you must first decide how much you are willing to pay for a lawyer. Lawyers’ hourly rates might range from $200 to more than $1000. Criminal defense attorneys in Vancouver may charge a flat fee for their services. The most straightforward approach to finding out how much a lawyer will charge you is to meet with them. Keep in mind that you get what you pay for in the long run.

Effortless Accessibility and a Quick Response

The lawyer you choose should be accessible to you throughout the lawsuit. Clients have expressed dissatisfaction with the fact that lawyers are only available to take their money when they are in the mood to do so. Don’t be scared to leave a lawyer like this and find someone better if you find yourself in this situation.

It may be a complex procedure to deal with while defending someone in a criminal defense case. Your lawyer should thus spend time talking to you and discovering the circumstances behind your charge or arrest. A home visit to discuss your case’s progress should be an option if you cannot make it into the office. Furthermore, if face-to-face contact is not possible, they should use internet communication techniques to get in touch with you.

The responsiveness of your legal counsel is as important as accessibility. When it comes to a criminal case, time is a crucial factor. The more time you waste, the worse the issue becomes. It would help if you made sure that your legal representative would begin working on your case as soon as you employ them. The sooner they can set up a meeting with you, the better if they have a legal team. In addition, if they are quick to respond to your phone calls or emails, they may also be speedy when it comes to putting together your defense strategy.


Choosing a Vancouver criminal defense lawyer requires careful consideration of several variables, and one of the most critical is their reputation. However, what exactly does a lawyer’s good name entail in this context? Reputation comprises proven talent, effort, and honesty, and the outcomes attained in court by a legal professional. Peer review is the best indicator of a professional’s reputation.

Do your research and make an informed decision. Your future well-being and those of your loved ones are directly tied to the case’s conclusion. Invest the time and effort. Choosing well will make a massive difference in how your case proceeds and the conclusion. It’s not a decision you should take lightly when fighting a criminal accusation. The result of your case might have a significant impact on your future; thus, you must choose and contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Vancouver, BC.

What is Aggravated Assault?

Anyone can be a victim of assault. At the same time, assault can be perpetrated by anyone regardless of their gender, age and color. Attempted severe physical harm is a form of aggravated assault that ignores a person’s existence. Assaults categorized as aggravated typically involve a weapon, the victim’s status, the perpetrator’s intent, and the severity of the injuries caused.

According to state criminal codes, specific acts of violence are classified as aggravated assaults. Assault with a deadly weapon, for example, is a more specific term that they may use. Aggravated assaults are heinous offenses and are classified as felonies, while simple assaults are classified as misdemeanors. In many states, aggravated assault is punishable in a variety of ways. If you are a victim, try seeking help from a New Westminster criminal defense lawyer to get the legal representation you deserve.

Assault with a Deadly Weapon

If someone attacks you with a deadly weapon, that can be categorized as aggravated assault. Aggravated assault occurs when someone threatens anyone with a lethal weapon because the fear involved is fear of further injury. This is true whether or not the weapon inflicts bodily harm on anyone else. To be considered an assault, the perpetrator must behave in such a way as to cause someone legitimate concern for their wellbeing.

Deadly weapons include anything that has the potential to kill or severely harm someone. Some weapons, such as guns, fit this description. Other objects may or may not be considered deadly weapons, depending on how they are used in the attack. For instance, holding a pocket knife to a victim’s neck can be lethal. If someone puts your life at risk with any weapon, that could fall into the aggravated assault category. For such cases, you can look for a criminal lawyer in New Westminster, BC, to take further legal action for your protection.

Victim’s Identity

Determining if an assault is aggravated or not takes into account several factors, and the identity of someone is one of the main ones to look at. Depending on the victim’s status, some assaults become more severe. For example, many countries recognize assaults on police officers, firefighters, and even teachers to be aggravated assaults and punish them accordingly. The victim must have been undertaking their responsibilities when assaulted. The perpetrator must have been aware of their status for an assault to be classified as aggravated.

Violence against persons of certain protected classes is punishable as aggravated assault, as well as hate crimes. Racism, ethnicity, national origin and religion are all examples of racial and ethnic-based assaults. Depending on your status, your assault can be categorized as aggravated, and you deserve compensation and protection at the very least.

Perpetrator’s Intent

The perpetrator’s state of mind can elevate a misdemeanor assault to aggravated assault. An assault could become more severe if the perpetrator acted with the intent to cause significant damage or the fear of causing severe harm. A person’s reckless behavior, for example, can be considered aggravated assault depending on the state’s laws. Assaults can be exacerbated if a dangerous or lethal weapon is used.

If someone acts without considering human life and puts the victim in danger, it quantifies to be viewed as aggravated assault, and necessary action should be taken. It does not matter whether the victim is harmed or not. If their life was at risk because of the perpetrator’s intentions to cause harm, that is aggravated assault.

The Extent of the Victim’s Injury

An assault can be elevated to a more severe punishment subject to a victim’s injuries.  Aggravated assaults are defined throughout many countries as assaults that lead to severe physical harm. The severity of a personal injury will vary from case to case, depending on the circumstances. Serious injuries include those that threaten the victim’s life or those that maim or disfigure the victim. Some states have specific laws that define what constitutes a severe injury. However, some states will punish it as aggravated assault even if the method of assault would typically result in death (or even attempted homicide).

Depending on the state, sexual assaults are involved, they might be categorized as assault/battery, sexual assault, aggravated assault or rape. If you are a victim of an assault, regardless of its extent, consider working with a Vancouver assault lawyer to determine what kind of case you are dealing with. If someone tries to harm you, taking legal action is always the best course of action to give them the punishment they deserve.

Who is at Risk of Getting Aggravated Assault?

Unfortunately, no one is exempted from being a victim of aggravated assault. Anyone can be at the receiving end of these heinous acts. However, certain risk factors can increase a person’s chances of becoming an assault or robbery victim. For instance, there is a higher possibility for males to experience aggravated assault than females at some point in their lives. Likewise, African Americans are at a higher risk of aggravated assault than any other race. Regardless, anyone can be assaulted, and what you do after the assault can make a significant difference.

What to do After Aggravated Assault

If you are the victim, there is a high possibility that you may feel confused, ashamed, helpless, angry or terrified, but that should not stop you. Luckily, with help and time, you can regain your self-confidence and feel good about yourself again. Remember, no matter what you go through, an assault is not your fault, and you do not deserve such treatment. It will help if you remember that the only person at fault is the perpetrator and should be punished for their actions.

Aggravated assault covers many circumstances, and it is in your best interest to know the facts of your situation if you want to develop a successful defense. With the help of a criminal lawyer in New Westminster, BC, you can examine the facts of your case and arrive at potential defenses. Your interests should be protected to give you peace of mind, and an attorney is your best option. If you are a victim of aggravated assault, contact us today, and we’ll help you with your particular case. 

Murder/Manslaughter Charges

No criminal allegations are more serious than those that involve death. Culpable homicide occurs when one directly or indirectly causes the death of another person through an unlawful act, or due to criminal negligence. Depending on the nature of the allegations, a defendant accused of homicide may be charged with first degree murder, second degree murder, or manslaughter. 

At N.J. Preovolos Law Corporation, our New Westminster murder/manslaughter defence lawyer believes that everyone deserves their day in court. We are qualified to handle the most serious and complex of criminal cases. To set up a completely confidential consultation with an experienced British Columbia homicide defence lawyer, please call our New Westminster office today. 

An Overview of Murder/Manslaughter Chargers in British Columbia

Under Criminal Code s.222(1), homicide is either culpable or non-culpable. A non-culpable homicide is not a criminal offence. Some examples of non-culpable homicide include lawfully justified self-defence and non-negligent accidents. In contrast, culpable homicide involves some form of criminal misconduct. Culpable homicide is a very serious offence in British Columbia. These charges generally fit into one of the following three categories: 

  • First Degree Murder: First degree murder is the most serious homicide charge in British Columbia. Under Criminal Code s.229, prosecutors must prove that the defendant: (1) Intentionally caused the victim’s death or (2) intentionally and recklessly caused grave bodily harm to the victim. Additionally, first degree murder requires that the homicide was planned and deliberate. A conviction generally carries a minimum sentence of 25 years in prison.  
  • Second Degree Murder: Second degree murder covers all murder offences that do not rise to the level of first degree. Essentially, a second murder will be charged if the prosecution cannot establish that the unlawful killing was planned and deliberate. While second degree murder carries less severe penalties than first degree murder, it is still a very serious charge. 
  • Manslaughter: Manslaughter is culpable homicide that does not rise to the level of murder. Most often, manslaughter is charged when a person is accused of unintentionally causing a death through criminal negligence or otherwise unlawfully reckless conduct. Though, a murder charge could be reduced to manslaughter if there is evidence of provocation. 

You do not have to defend a serious criminal charge on your own. With so much on the line, you need a professional advocate by your side. Nicholas J. Preovolosis an experienced New Westminster murder/manslaughter criminal defence lawyer. He will put in the time and resources to investigate your case and help you put together the most effective defence strategy. 

Contact Our New Westminster Homicide Defence Lawyer Today

At N.J. Preovolos Law Corporation, our New Westminster murder & manslaughter defence lawyer provides representation that you can trust during the most difficult times. If you or your loved one is facing a homicide charge, we will protect your rights. Contact us today for a fully confidential initial consultation. With an office in New Westminster, we represent clients throughout British Columbia, including in Vancouver, Surrey, Burnaby, Richmond, and Coquitlam.

Rethinking Spousal Assault Prosecutions in BC

Any time police receive a report of “domestic violence” in British Columbia, the response is the same. On an allegation as trifling as a shove that causes no injury, someone is arrested. At that point a very frustrating and costly entanglement with the criminal justice system begins – for not just the accused, but also the victim. Especially if the victim is a woman and she does not accept the state’s dogma on the correct response to spousal assault.

The initial statement of a female victim to the police is accepted and relied on to prosecute the accused. That, however, is where the victim’s input in the process effectively ends. Female victims then have to endure the exasperating paternalism of the state, which suddenly judges women incapable of making decisions about their own living arrangements or safety. As far as the government is concerned, a woman who calls 911 apparently loses her mental faculties and judgment after having had the good sense to ask for help. Interestingly, while experts say that domestic violence is about power and control, a woman who asks for help loses all control.

Usually the accused is released within hours of his arrest but is prohibited from communicating with his spouse, returning to his house or parenting his children. This is fine if this is the wish of the victim. More commonly it is not, and to the disappointment of accused and victim alike, these restrictions do not expire. Where a 24 to 48 hour cooling off period would probably be reasonable in most cases, the state imposes these restrictions indefinitely.

For the first time in their lives, people who have been together for years are cut off from each other. Young children who have never been apart from their parents are deprived of one. Typically a victim will not succeed in persuading a prosecutor or judge that she and her partner should be “allowed” to live together unless a significant period of time has passed since the complaint was made to police. The victim will be told a “few weeks” must pass or that the accused must do some counselling first. Then she will be told that contact must be increased incrementally, starting with text messages and telephone contact, progressing to in person contact in public or at a counsellor’s office, and culminating in contact with the victim’s consent.

In reality, this one-size-fits-all approach to complaints of spousal assault or domestic violence is not necessary for the vast majority of cases. It seems counter-intuitive and counterproductive to prohibit communication between spouses for more than a few hours or days. From our early childhood, we are taught to solve our problems by communicating. In the realm of domestic assault cases, communication is forbidden and separation is mandated. The couple’s desire to communicate and interact doesn’t matter. Father, in this case the state, knows best.

To be clear, I am not saying there are no situations where an accused should be prohibited from contacting a victim. I have seen more than a few in my time as a defence lawyer, representing both accused persons and on occasion victims. I can tell you these situations are readily apparent to even a casual observer. Contact should be prohibited any time there has been a serious assault, any time the accused has previously been the subject of spousal assault charges, and any time there is an obvious power imbalance between accused and victim. In the latter instance, you don’t have to spend a lot of time with a victim to figure out the type of dynamic at play in a relationship. There are some obvious indicators of vulnerability that can be investigated during a short interview.

Yet in British Columbia the criminal justice system proceeds on the assumption that every victim “needs” the protection of the state. Any victim who says she doesn’t need it or doesn’t want it is told that she does. This is unfortunate. It is a policy basically borne out of institutional fear. The worst nightmare of any police officer, prosecutor or judge who does not impose strict release conditions is that the accused will murder his spouse after he is released. That fear lingers at the back of everyone’s mind and drives the whole system. It leads to the treatment of every accused person in a spousal assault case as a potential murderer, and starts the punishment of that person before he ever steps foot in a courtroom.

Technically, bail conditions are not considered punishment. Try explaining that to an accused who has been cut off from his children for several weeks, who has had no contact with his spouse, and who has been allowed to return to his house just once for 15 minutes in the company of a police officer to gather a garbage bag full of personal effects.

The prosecution of domestic violence is important. Violence in relationships, especially intimate relationships, cannot be tolerated, and must be addressed by the criminal justice system. Let’s not forget, however, that the vast majority of accused persons in spousal assault cases are not murderers. More importantly, let’s abandon the fiction that “no contact” restrictions would prevent a determined murderer from killing his spouse if she is not in hiding. So let’s not punish everyone else to make the institutional players sleep better, and let’s not discourage female victims from asking for help.

Kelly Ellard’s Shawshank Redemption

For those who don’t know or don’t remember, in 1997 Reena Virk, a 14 year old teenager, was viciously beaten by a group of classmates and murdered by her peers Kelly Ellard and Warren Glowatski. Reena, like many of us at that age, was struggling socially, and her tormentors, like some of us at that age, were cruel and ruthless. Sadly, bullying and high school cruelty ended in Reena’s murder at the hands of 15 year old Kelly Ellard and 16 year old Warren Glowatski.

This week, nearly 19 years after Reena’s murder, I was reminded of the scene in the Shawshank Redemption between Ellis Boyd Redding (Red) played by Morgan Freeman and a parole board interviewer. The application of Kelly Ellard, now 34 years old, for release on “day parole” after 14 years in jail, is reminiscent of the scene reproduced below.

Parole Board Interviewer:
Please, sit down. Ellis Boyd Redding, your files say you’ve served 40 years of a life sentence. You feel you’ve been rehabilitated?

Rehabilitated? Well, now, let me see. You know, I don’t have any idea what that means.

Parole Board Interviewer:
Uh, well, it means you’re ready to rejoin society –

– I know what you think it means, sonny. To me, it’s just a made up word, a politician’s word, so that young fellas like yourself can wear a suit and a tie and have a job. What do you really wanna know? Am I sorry for what I did?

Parole Board Interviewer:
Well, are you?

There’s not a day goes by I don’t feel regret. Not because I’m in here, or because you think I should. I look back on the way I was then, a young, stupid kid who committed that terrible crime. I wanna talk to him. I wanna try to talk some sense to him — tell him the way things are. But I can’t. That kid’s long gone and this old man is all that’s left. I gotta live with that.


And so it went for Ellard and her interlocutor, Mr. Ian Mackenzie, a member of the parole board and an ex-police officer. According to the press, Mackenzie asked Ellard who was responsible for Reena’s murder. Ellard answered, “I believe I am.” That was not enough for Mackenzie, who implicitly criticized Ellard for not publicly accepting responsibility earlier and dismissed her acceptance of responsibility as “strategic” rather than from the heart. The fact that Ellard wrote a letter to Reena’s family four years ago accepting responsibility for Reena’s death did not seem to move Mackenzie. Nor did it matter that Ellard had completed various programs in prison, was deemed a “low risk to reoffend”, and had not been involved in any violent incidents in prison for several years.

At the end of the day, Ellard’s acknowledgment of responsibility was not to the Parole Board’s satisfaction. It is difficult to know why. On the one hand, perhaps Ellard has indeed failed to accept full responsibility for her actions. On the other hand, perhaps she hasn’t. Ellard’s only failing might be in her ability to articulate her degree of responsibility and level of remorse to the liking of the Parole Board.

Of course Ellard does not naturally attract sympathy. Reena’s murder was tragic and heartbreaking, and her family’s suffering was drawn out by Ellard’s multiple appeals, three trials, and failure to publicly accept responsibility for her actions until very recently. The public’s visceral reaction is to demand Ellard’s incarceration for life or worse. What is lost in all of this is the purpose of our criminal justice system.

Sentencing is not about “an eye for an eye” or “revenge”. It is about the principles of sentencing mandated by the Criminal Code, including general deterrence, specific deterrence, denunciation, rehabilitation, public safety, and proportionality. In practical terms, what does this mean?  It means that a jail sentence should only be as long as necessary to express society’s condemnation of an abhorrent act, to deter others and the offender herself from committing similar acts, to protect the public, and to facilitate the offender’s rehabilitation.  It is not to impose a fate on the offender similar to the fate of the victim.  Some people find this offensive, but it is the law.  The system is not designed to ensure that Ellard loses her life by spending the rest of it behind bars.  Assuming the only purpose of sentencing was to discourage others from committing the same crime, keeping Ellard in jail for the rest of her life would not even meet that objective. In fact, study after study has shown that “general deterrence” – deterring others from committing serious crimes – is not enhanced by lengthening prison sentences.  Is more than 14 years necessary to denounce her crime?  Parliament says that 7 years might actually be enough.

In the case of youth who have committed crimes (persons under 18), there is also a recognition that young people are not as morally culpable for their actions as adults for the simple reason that minors lack the judgment and self-control that comes with age and full physical and mental maturity.

Ellard committed a horrific act at the age of 15. It was inexcusable and she will have to live with it for the rest of her life. But she is 34 years old now and has spent 14 years in jail – in fact, most of her adult life. The court has imposed the maximum sentence on her – life in prison without eligibility for parole for 7 years. Those seven years have come and gone and Ellard has now spent double that amount of time in jail. Whether Ellard is released or not is no longer about punishing her or denouncing her crime. It is about whether she can be released without creating an undue risk to the public.

You can’t blame Ellard for saying “enough is enough already”, and it’s unfortunate that Mackenzie accuses her of sounding “very entitled” for saying so.  The truth is that Ellard is right. There is nothing more to be accomplished by keeping Ellard in prison. It is time for Ellard to begin the process of gradual reintegration into society, and in seeking “day parole” rather than “full parole” she was proposing an incremental return to society where she would remain under close supervision in a halfway house. The slightest of missteps in that environment would result in her immediate and indefinite return to jail under our parole system. People forget that “life means life.” Supervision of an offender serving a life sentence never ends, and the specter of returning to jail is never far away.

People don’t realize that Ellard’s co-accused, Warren Glowatski, was released on parole in 2010.  They also don’t realize that the vast majority of offenders serving life sentences, apart from the likes of Clifford Olson, Robert Picton, and Russell Williams, are one day released.  If as a society we come to the conclusion that this is wrong, then Parliament should consider amendments to the Criminal Code.  In the meantime, we have to accept that after the minimum period of incarceration on a life sentence has been served, release is appropriate where the danger to the public is manageable and where offenders have been successful in their efforts at rehabilitation and can continue their rehabilitation in the community. Prolonged incarceration of a person who will ultimately be released is actually in neither the offender’s interest nor the community’s, for the simple reason that prolonged incarceration is destructive.

Everyday criminal defence lawyers must combat the myths that surround the treatment of criminals to ensure that the principles of sentencing mandated by law are understood by the public.  It is even more important that criminal defence lawyers advocate for evidence-based law and policy in criminal law over vindictiveness and harshness.