We are interested in ensuring that innocent people are not convicted of offences enacted by Parliament and any of the legislatures and that the people so charged are treated equally and in accordance with fair process and the principles of fundamental justice. We are also interested in ensuring that those who are convicted of such offences are subjected to fit sentences according to law and fair process and further, that the carrying out of those including, in particular, sentences of imprisonment, are carried out according to law and the proscriptions of the Constitution. This includes ensuring that they are not excessive, nor cruel or unusual.
Inevitably, our practice therefore includes extensive expertise in matters arising under the Criminal Code of Canada, Narcotic Control Act and Food and Drugs Act and now the new Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, in relation to imprisonment and release, the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and the B.C. Jail Rules and Regulations and other subordinate and related legislation.
The corrections, imprisonment and release part of our practice brings us into contact on a regular basis with representatives of the Correctional Service of Canada administering federal prisons and the numerous individuals, boards and tribunals governing the lives of prisoners, but also the National Parole Board and its representatives in relation to various forms of conditional release from unescorted temporary absences to full parole and detention hearings. We are also extensively involved with their provincial counterparts, namely representatives of the Corrections Branch of the Ministry of Attorney General of the Province of British Columbia and the B.C. Board of Parole in relation to sentences being served in provincial institutions, including sentences of imprisonment up to two years less one day.
We can provide legal services to people who know that they are about to be sentenced to imprisonment to assist in the classification process, to help orient them to their new legal status and to provide services throughout the sentence until warrant expiry and thereafter. Applications for pardons before the Clemency Division of the National Parole Board and referrals in relation to admissions to other countries for travel purposes can be provided.
In addition to providing representation in relation to specific matters arising during the course of the sentence, whether in dealing with Corrections officials in relation to classification, transfer and passes and so on or appearing before the National Parole Board to assist in seeking parole or to prevent its cancellation and revocation, our practice includes the judicial review of these administrative, and other decisions by way of relief in both the Federal Court Trial Division and the British Columbia Superior Courts, including appeals to the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada.
Our practice extends to include judicial review of sentences of life imprisonment for first degree murder with minimum parole ineligibility periods of 25 years. These reviews take place after a lifer has served at least 15 years and has some reasonable basis for seeking a change in the ineligibility date. These reviews are by juries by ordinary people and as such represent a unique democratic participation of the people in a sentencing matter.
The firm’s practice also extends to assisting Canadian citizens who are imprisoned abroad, particularly in the United States of America, in having their sentences transferred to Canada pursuant to the Transfer of Offenders Act and the International Treaties between Canada and various other countries, including the Multi-Lateral Convention on the transfer of offenders. This practice usually involves assisting the persons initially in the other country to commence their applications and keeping in touch with them and representatives of the other countries as to the status of the matter until the transfer is imminent. Apart from providing those representatives with information, we play a role in making representations to the Canadian authorities for approval and assisting in classification and release once in Canada.
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