Phone: 604-558-8778
Toll Free: 1-855-558-8778

November 2016

customs law

Arrested at the border? Call us.

Due to our close proximity to YVR, Canada’s third busiest airport (I can see the planes land from my office!), and to two international border crossings, Peace Arch and Pacific Highway, we encounter a large amount of customs and immigration related matters.

These include situations where the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has taken customs enforcement action or taken immigration enforcement action against someone.  Immigration enforcement action can include exclusion orders or being “allowed to leave” Canada for being inadmissible.  Customs enforcement actions can involve a variety of issues, including:

  • Possession or smuggling of firearms
  • Possession and smuggling of narcotics
  • Failing to declare High Value Items (including watches, jewelry, designer accessories, etc.)
  • Failing to declare currency over $10,000
  • Failing to declare agricultural items (animal products and other food items)
  • Possession of child pornography

In the case of firearms, child pornography, and narcotics, offenders are usually charged under both the Customs Act and Criminal Code.  These charges are serious and can carry large minimum sentences.  These offences will often include investigations by both the CBSA and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

Customs Act charges, such as smuggling or failing to declare goods can involve large fines on top of having to pay the outstanding duties and taxes, in addition to the risk of jail.  CBSA Officers can use discretion to either taken seizure enforcement action at the port of entry, where the items are seized and released once a penalty is paid, or refer the case to criminal investigations, in which case an arrest is made and the matter goes before the courts.  The penalties at the court level can involve a period of imprisonment and/or a large fine (for high value items it is often equal to the duties and taxes evaded).  When high value items are seized for failing to declare them, assuming that they are actually admissible to Canada, they will be held until any outstanding penalties are paid.

Certain offences under the Customs Act can lead to a criminal record, such as:

  • Making a false or deceptive statement to a CBSA officer contrary to Section 153(a) of the Customs Act
  • Smuggling under Section 159 of the Customs Act

An experienced customs lawyer can assist you in both the criminal court process as well as in a Ministerial Review of a Customs Act seizure.  The Ministerial Review follows Administrative Law principles and has an adjudicator review the customs seizure to determine if it was correctly implemented.  A successful Ministerial Review can result in the action being overturned or the level of action being adjusted, potentially resulting in reduced fines or other penalties.  In cases of high value items, this can make a significant financial difference.

Having worked for Canada Border Services previously, I am experienced in the nuances of Customs and Immigration law which gives me a different perspective when handling a case involving a Customs Act violation.  I was involved in the seizure of firearms, narcotics, currency and high value undeclared items.  I have since been able to assist my clients with Customs Act charges, saving them both time, money and make sure they receive the best outcome for their case.  Contact me if you have been the subject of a customs seizure to find out what your options are.

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Domestic Assault: What you need to know

A domestic assault charge can have serious and long lasting consequences. No matter how minor the incident, it will be treated as a very serious matter by police and prosecutors. As soon as a spouse, family member, a neighbour or other third party calls the police to report a domestic incident, the case will be handled differently from other criminal cases. The police will show up quickly, and they will almost always make an arrest, even when there are no injuries.

Know your rights

Anytime you are arrested, you have several fundamental rights afforded to you under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, including the right to speak to a lawyer without delay.  Many people still do not exercise their right to speak with a lawyer when they have been charged with domestic assault. While the police may tell you that this is your chance to tell them your side of the story, the reality is that the police are not on your side, and anything you tell them can and will be used against you. It is always recommended that you exercise your right to speak to a lawyer and to otherwise remain silent (that is do not talk to the police about the incident or otherwise).

A knowledgeable criminal lawyer will be in the best position to provide you with immediate legal advice upon you being arrested for domestic assault.

Know your bail conditions

After your arrest, you will likely be released with conditions. Bail conditions last until the completion of the case or unless they are varied, either directly by the police or by a Justice of the Peace or a judge. One of the basic conditions is likely to be that you do not have any communication or contact “directly or indirectly” with your partner or spouse, and/or that you do not go to the address where he/she resides (which may be your house) or go to his or her employment or educational facility.

The term “communicate” refers to any form of communication. This means that you cannot use a third party to contact or communicate with your partner or spouse. It also means that you cannot post messages on social media directed at your spouse, knowing that he or she is likely to see those messages. Even if your partner or spouse initiates contact with you, this is not a defence if you continue to engage in the communication.

It is fundamental that you don’t breach your conditions. It is highly recommended that you speak to a knowledgeable criminal defence lawyer as to changing the conditions of your release.

Know the process

A conviction for a domestic assault can result in a criminal record, the loss of your employment, can prevent you from getting certain types of jobs in the future, and could prevent you from traveling to the United States.

Resolving a domestic assault case is not as simple as your spouse asking to have the charges dropped. It is not up to the complainant to drop or pursue the charges. The case is dealt within the criminal justice system.

It is highly recommended that if you have been arrested or charged with domestic assault, you contact an experienced criminal defence lawyer to represent your interests.

We are very experienced with domestic assault cases. Don’t delay and contact us if you have been charged. We have many offices in BC to serve you including Vancouver, Surrey, Richmond and Kelowna.

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Our Head Office has Moved!

Filkow Law is pleased to announce as of August 15, our new head office is located at 510-450 SW Marine Drive in Vancouver. Our new office is on the Marine Drive Canada Line station. Extensive metered and underground parking is also available.

Our new and larger office location allows us to provide additional services to all of our clients.

In addition to its excellent daily trial practice in criminaldriving and personal injury law, Filkow Law has expanded to include new lawyers practicing in the areas of car accidentsICBC breaches, family law, customs and border cases and other litigation matters.

Filkow Law will continue to provide legal services out of our offices in RichmondSurrey and Kelowna.

Please do not hesitate to contact us for any assistance at 604-558-8778. We look forward to seeing and serving you at our new Vancouver location.

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Voted Richmond’s Best Lawyer

Filkow Law has the pleasure of being voted 2016 Richmond’s Best Law Firm. Filkow Law has been serving a diverse community in the Richmond area for over 20 years. Lawyers and staff at the firm speak Mandarin, Cantonese, Punjabi, Russian, French, Serbian, Polish and German. The lawyers at Filkow Law specialize in criminal charges, driving cases, and ICBC cases.

Filkow Law is a highly regarded law firm with over 25 years of experience.

Filkow Law looks forward to continuing to deliver excellent outcomes for its clients. Please do not hesitate to contact any of the lawyers at the firm at 604-558-8778

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The Right Drug Defence

A drug conviction can have lifelong implications.

Drug related offences, particularly trafficking and possession for the purpose of trafficking, are some of the most heavily resourced police files. Police receive extensive training and are provided unlimited resources to utilize a variety of investigative techniques for drug cases. Some of these techniques include:

-Surveillance
-Confidential informants
-Wiretaps
-Undercover officers
-Trafficking devices

The accused is often faced with a large amount of evidence against him/her. The drug case looks bad and the penalties and implications can be very serious.

As drug cases have many layers, a wide variety of legal issues arise. It is important to go through all the evidence with a fine tooth comb and flush out the different issues.

Drug cases require strong preparation, excellent strategy, and more importantly, the right lawyer and legal team.

We have recently achieved some remarkable results for our clients with drug charges. Our extensive experience on drug cases has allowed us to develop specialized knowledge and a specific approach to handling these types of complex cases.

 

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Kevin Filkow chairs TLABC webinar on the Immediate Roadside Prohibition (“IRP”) regime

Kevin Filkow presented to members of the Trial Lawyers Association of BC on March 3, 2016. The informative webinar instructed lawyers on the Immediate Roadside Prohibition (“IRP”)  regime. The topics covered were:

  • Issues that determine whether a client should file for a review
  • Challenging the admissibility of evidence
  • Challenging the credibility and reliability of evidence
  • Taking advantage of police mistakes
  • Common mistakes that lawyers seem to be making
  • The inside scoop on the workings of RoadSafetyBC and its policies
  • The FST – how it works, why it was introduced and the basics of calibration testings
  • New case law
  • The remedial programs

The Immediate Roadside Prohibition regime is very different than how the system used to work. The process is different. The laws are different. The issues are different.  The timelines are different. The decision makers are different. It has become a very specialized area.

Filkow Law is a leading BC law firm dealing with drinking and driving offences. If you receive an IRP – you have 7 days to dispute it. Contact us at 604-558-8778 to discuss.

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