We offer a full service criminal law firm. We have over 50 years experience in the defence of those charged with crime. Although we have done many cases on legal aid we are simply not able to continue to work at the rates offered by legal services. We charge out at our regular hourly rate and we commonly work out budgets with clients and make it clear what services are to be provided. An upfront financial retainer is required in all cases, the amount will depend on what needs to done.

As regulated lawyers we must account to you for the work done by issuing bill(s) and account for the work performed and provide you a refund for any unused portion of the retainer once the file is complete. Our retainer process is seamless with no surprises; we take pride in our communication with our clients and our relationship must by definition be an ongoing dialogue with the client keeping the client fully informed of the steps involved when charged with a crime.

Those charged with crime do not set out to be charged and once charged have really no alternative but to find a lawyer. Our practice is the first half interview an hour is without charge. We will give you a quick opinion on your file and help you review your options. If you qualify for legal aid start with that process and they will refer you to a lawyer who accepts legal services referrals, if you do do know how to find a lawyer on legal aid.


If you are in custody we will give you advice by phone but we will not attend a bail hearing without some form of retainer being provided. We do answer the phones 24 hours a day and even without a retainer we will advise you regarding your rights and obligations and try to determine if the police will release you without requiring a bail hearing.

The police have the power in most cases (not all, Murder for example) to release you on a police undertaking. It is common in drug cases for those arrested following a search warrant to be released without any process. We call it “catch and release”. That does not mean the investigation is over, it simply gives the police flexibility in the time required to prepare a report to Crown counsel and submit it to the crown. It also does not trigger the Charter right to be tried within a reasonable period of time as release without bail conditions means no prejudice to the accused if the issue of a right to trial within a reasonable time becomes a viable issue (Section 11-b of the Charter).

If you are facing a spousal related charge there is a protocol for that and you will traditionally not be released except on terms which include a no contact term. You should get advice about any police officer release document soon after your release.

If it is a domestic/spousal charge abuse, the matter is complicated by virtue of the usual no contact and no go orders to the family residence that are usual in a police undertaking. It gets even more complicated if there are children involved. (This can also engage the Ministry of Children and Families jurisdiction). While it is better to try to get the best possible police release undertaking, the Criminal Code does permit a Judge of the Provincial Court to vary the police undertaking and it does not require the Crown’s consent so variations of police undertakings do regularly occur following your release.

Catherine Tyhurst is also a full time family lawyer and deals regularly with Ministry files so it does make sense if you have separate Family/Ministry issues to be resolved that you seek her out to represent you. There are obvious economies of scale if you can have one lawyer deal with both the criminal and Family/Ministry issues. Mr Firestone does not practice Family law/Ministry law and, if there is an overlap, I will ask the client to retain Catherine separately as I will not take a retainer to deal with the Family/Ministry issues arising out of a family case.


Pursuant to the Charter everyone upon being detained or arrested has that right to be told of their right to speak to a lawyer. Failure to comply with this right by the Police can have a significant impact upon your case. If you are arrested or detained call a lawyer immediately. If you are unable to reach us call the toll free number available from the police and speak to a lawyer and get advise.


The Supreme Court of Canada sometime ago in a case call Brydges ruled that in those Provinces where free legal duty counsel are made available to those people arrested, the Police have a positive legal duty to tell any one arrested that they have the right to access 24 hours free legal advice from a lawyer through a free toll free number for legal aid and to be provided that toll free number. (FREE LEGAL ADVICE 24 HOURS IS A DAY IS AVAILABLE BY TOLL FREE NUMBER). Any one arrested should assert their right to silence and call a lawyer immediately.


Everyone in Canada is presumed innocent and has the right to remain silent. What that means is that no negative inference can be drawn in a court room from your silence. An accused person in Canada has nothing to prove, rather the Crown must prove every charge beyond a reasonable doubt.

Name rank and serial number: In order to be released the Police have to know your name and your address. You will not be released without that information being provided. However, no other information should be provided. It is okay to sign the PTA or the police undertaking as neither document incriminates you. It is a serious offence to lie to the police about your identity (obstruction) and so if you do not wish to identify yourself it is better to assert your right to silence and speak to a lawyer but the Police will not release someone they have arrested without being satisfied who they are.


The police are effective at getting arrested people to talk to them. They regularly leave the impression that you might get out faster if you speak to them or that the Judge will treat them more leniently if they speak without the benefit of legal advice. Our advice regardless of the charge once arrested you should assert your right to silence and contact a lawyer and never provide a statement either orally, in writing or by video without first obtaining legal advise.

A person who is arrested has the right to choose whether to speak to the police. As part of the accused’s rights you are entitled to full disclosure of the police report in your case, including disclosure of all the witness statements. Please do not use your anxiousness to know about the case to permit yourself to engage in a dialogue with the Police. You will have plenty of time to learn about the case against you, once released. If possible, stay in a cell and respectfully decline being put in an audio/video interview room. Ask to be released. If the Police insist on talking to you once you have made it clear you do not wish to speak to them, put your fingers in your ears so you cannot hear them and repeat: “I choose not to provide a statement, I wish to be released or be taken before a judge for bail”. Eventually they will give up trying to get a statement from you.


In Canada unlike the United States once you have been advised of your right to contact a lawyer and spoken to a lawyer you are not entitled to have a lawyer present in your police interview. (It is not like on US television.) You must be brought before a Judge or Judicial Justice of the Peace as soon as practicable or no later than 24 hours after your arrest. There is a process for bail hearings to be conducted on weekends or evenings by telephone.

If retained we will participate in telebails (bail hearings by telephone). It is common on serious cases for arrests to occur on Thursdays or Fridays of long weekends so investigators can maximize the time they have you under their control. (The timing of your arrest is a deliberate Police tactic in some cases.) Pursuant to Section 516 of the Criminal Code the Police have the right to request a 3 day remand to further their investigation and that disentitles you to a bail hearing for up to 3 days. This section pre-dates the advent of the Charter and we are of the view it is likely unconstitutional but to our knowledge no one has taken the time to challenge it.

The bottom line is that we suggest everyone who is arrested assert their right to silence and not provide a statement of any kind to the Police upon their arrest. If the Police will not release you, an appearance will occur in front of a Judge or Judicial Justice of the Peace. Following our initial advice by phone we can appear by phone or appear at your bail hearing. There is a constitutional right to bail and the Courts in British Columbia are responsive to bail submissions and usually people are not detained unless good cause for detention is made out by the Crown.

The situation involving Murder is different. No one charged with Murder can be released by Provincial Court Judge or Judicial Justice. Only a Supreme Court Judge following the preparation of a written application usually supported by an affidavit has the jurisdiction to release someone charged with Murder. I have applied and received releases on Murder cases both in Supreme Court and on Review in the Court of Appeal. Both Catherine Tyhurst and I have regularly obtained bail for people facing all different kinds of charges.


In British Columbia we have separated the investigation process from the charge approval process. The Police investigate crime, the Crown both Federal and Provincial have the final say regarding charge approval. In Canada someone is not formally charged with an offence until the Report to Crown Counsel has been approved by the applicable Crown and there is a formal charging document in Court called an information. The Federal Crown has jurisdiction over drug charges and the Provincial Crown has jurisdiction over all matters contained in the Criminal Code.

In most cases when the police investigations are finished and someone is arrested, if not facing a bail hearing, they will either be released on a catch and release or be given a promise to appear (PTA) for a date certain for a first appearance. We have found an insidious aspect to the catch and release process in that instead of providing a PTA, the police send in a report recommending approval of specific charges and a request for a warrant. So instead of facing a PTA with a date certain those facing catch and release face the uncertainty of a warrant and a second arrest process. If you are facing one of these type of situations it is imperative to hire a lawyer to try to prevent the warrant and a second arrest. This catch and release process is something relatively new.


We take pride about the ease of access we provide to clients and the quality of service we provide. Our phone system is 24 hours. We ask clients with the exception of emergencies to contact us during regular business hours which are 830 am to 4 pm. We return calls. If we are told someone is in custody wishing to speak to us we will try to contact them at the police station they are being held at. It is our preference that the client calls us but we will, if the situation requires it, try to speak to someone in police custody at the request of a family member, but it must be remembered it is the client’s choice of counsel, not the family’s that counts.

We pride ourselves at keeping people’s confidences so everything we are told remains both confidential and privileged. We are good listeners. We try to stay within budgets created for the purpose of your case. You are not alone. Call us. Peter Firestone