BC Prosecution Service

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The BC Prosecution Service (BCPS) promotes public safety, justice, and respect for the rule of law by making principled charge assessment decisions and conducting fair and effective prosecutions and appeals. In making its prosecutorial decisions, the BCPS acts independently of police and government.

In addition, the BCPS:

  • develops policies and procedures on the administration of criminal justice
  • provides criminal law advice to government
  • liaises with the media and the public on prosecution matters
  • prepares victims for court and provides appropriate information to them about prosecutions and the criminal justice system, and
  • carries out any other function or responsibility assigned to it by the Attorney General.

To learn more about the BC Prosecution Service, our Strategic Plan, Annual Report, information sheets and other resources are available on this website. You can also follow the BC Prosecution Service on Twitter @bcprosecution.

Criminal justice process

Prosecution files are managed as one part of the overall criminal justice system that includes five (5) main phases

Investigation

Police investigate possible crime. If warranted, police or other investigative agencies submit to Crown a Report to Crown Counsel for charge assessment. 

Charge Assessment

Crown receives RSS, which is then subject to charge assessment.

They then consider two issues:

  • Is there a substantial likelihood of conviction?
  • Is prosecution required in the public interest?

Crown Council then have four options. They can:

  • lay charges
  • not lay charges
  • refer the person to an alternative measures program
  • refer the matter back to investigative agency for more information

Prosecution

If charges are laid, Crown Counsel conduct a prosecution on behalf of the community. 

Trials may be held in Provincial Count or the Supreme Court of BC. The trial will determine if the accused is found guilty or not guilty.

Sentencing

A sentence will be imposed if the accused is found guilty after a trial or pleads guilty to charges,

Appeals

The decision of the judge or jury is final. But, that decision might be appealed. An appeal is a formal request for change to the decision when it's believed that an error was made in some important aspect of the trial. 

Appeals can be initiated from:

  • a conviction, a sentence, or both
  • an acquittal

Criminal Justice Process Visualized

The following image illustrates the five (5) main steps described in the Criminal justice process section.

A graphic representing British Columbia's criminal justice system processes.

Independence of Crown Counsel

As mandated under the Crown Counsel Act, Crown counsel make their prosecutorial decisions independent of any outside influence.

Media Statements

December 10, 2021

Special Prosecutor approves public mischief charge following Surrey investigation

Victoria – The BC Prosecution Service (BCPS) announced that Special Prosecutor Richard Fowler QC has approved a charge of public mischief against Surrey Mayor Douglas McCallum, following an investigation initiated by a complaint from Mr. McCallum regarding events that allegedly occurred on or about September 4, 2021 at or near Surrey.

November 24, 2021

BC Prosecution Service approves charges against Surrey RCMP officer

Victoria – The BC Prosecution Service (BCPS) announced today that charges of assault and uttering threats have been approved against Surrey RCMP Cst. Zubair Mohammed Hassan in connection with their involvement in the arrest of a suspect on December 9, 2020.

September 24, 2021

Assault charges approved against Vancouver police officers

Victoria – The BC Prosecution Service (BCPS) announced today that charges of assault and assault causing bodily harm have been approved against three Vancouver police officers in connection with their involvement in the arrest of a suspect on May 24, 2017, in Vancouver. The case was investigated by the Independent Investigations Office (IIO), which subsequently submitted a Report to Crown Counsel in February 2019.

September 20, 2021

Special Prosecutor Appointed

Victoria - The BC Prosecution Service (BCPS) announced that Richard Fowler QC has been appointed Special Prosecutor to provide legal assistance and advice to the RCMP in relation to an investigation that was initiated by a complaint from the Mayor of Surrey.

August 31, 2021

Stay of Proceedings directed in Criminal Negligence prosecution for 2009 workplace fatality near Toba Inlet
Victoria – The BC Prosecution Service (BCPS) announced today that a stay of proceedings has been entered in a criminal negligence prosecution for a 2009 workplace fatality near Toba Inlet.

August 23, 2021

BC Prosecution Service approves charge against Kelowna RCMP officer
Victoria – The BC Prosecution Service (BCPS) announced that a charge of assault has been approved against Kelowna RCMP Cst. Lacy Browning in connection with their involvement in a wellness check on January 20, 2020.

August 10, 2021

Special Prosecutors decline to approve further charges following conclusion of investigation at BC Legislature
Victoria– The BC Prosecution Service (BCPS) announced that David Butcher QC and Brock Martland QC have declined to approve any further charges following the receipt of the final Report to Crown Counsel (RCC) submitted by police investigating the activities of senior staff at the British Columbia Legislature.

June 11, 2021

Assault charge approved against Vancouver police officer
Victoria – The BC Prosecution Service (BCPS) announced that a charge of assault has been approved against a Vancouver police officer in connection with the arrest of an individual on November 13, 2019, in the downtown area of Vancouver.

April 14, 2021

Assault charge approved against Kelowna RCMP officer
Victoria – The BC Prosecution Service (BCPS) announced that a charge of assault has been approved against a Kelowna RCMP officer in connection with the arrest of a suspected impaired driver on May 30, 2020.

April 6, 2021

Charges approved against VPD officer following arrest of theft suspect
Victoria – The BC Prosecution Service (BCPS) announced that charges of assault with a weapon, attempting to obstruct justice, and dangerous driving have been approved against a Vancouver Police Constable in connection with the arrest of a shoplifting suspect on May 9, 2019 in Vancouver.

March 12, 2021

Assault charges approved against RCMP officers following Richmond arrest
Victoria – The BC Prosecution Service (BCPS) announced that charges of assault have been approved against two RCMP officers in connection with their involvement in the arrest of an individual suspected to be in possession of stolen property on October 10, 2019 in Richmond.

March 10, 2021

No charges approved for Fort St. John RCMP officer; Clear Statement
Victoria - The BC Prosecution Service (BCPS) announced that no charges have been approved against a member of the Fort St. John RCMP involved in an arrest on April 22, 2019 which resulted in injuries to a civilian.

February 25, 2021

Special prosecutor issues recommendations regarding possible miscarriage of justice in R v Bouvette
Victoria – The BC Prosecution Service (BCPS) announced that Special Prosecutor Marilyn Sandford QC has made a series of recommendations following her review of the conduct of the prosecution of Tammy Bouvette. Ms. Bouvette was originally charged with second degree murder for a fatality which occurred in 2011. The file involved the death of an infant and concluded in 2013 with the conviction of Ms. Bouvette for criminal negligence causing death.

February 23, 2021

No charges approved following motor vehicle incident involving Surrey RCMP officer
Victoria – The BC Prosecution Service (BCPS) announced that no charges have been approved against a member of the Surrey RCMP involved in an attempted traffic stop on January 7, 2020 of a suspected impaired driver. The suspect driver refused to stop for the officer and engaged in driving that culminated in a single vehicle rollover. The driver suffered serious injuries in the rollover.

January 15, 2021

More policy changes aimed at increasing fairness and reducing overrepresentation of Indigenous persons in the criminal justice system
Victoria – The BC Prosecution Service (BCPS) announced policy changes that specifically target the overrepresentation of Indigenous persons in the BC criminal justice system and other changes undertaken as part of the ordinary process of policy review.