Vancouver Criminal Lawyer
Claire Hatcher has practiced in Vancouver as a criminal lawyer since 2003. Her practice spans from trials in Provincial Court and more complex trials in the Supreme Court of British Columbia, to appellate work in the British Columbia Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada. She takes on clients from all over British Columbia.
With plenty of impaired driving (DUI) and drug cases under her belt, Claire has additionally become known as a successful sexual assault lawyer with particular expertise defending cases involving a breach of trust—most notably, sexual assault offences committed by teachers against students. As a criminal lawyer she also acts for individuals facing disciplinary action from professional bodies resulting from criminal conduct.
Invited to act as counsel for participants in the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry, Claire analyzed legal and social issues surrounding the police investigation and criminal prosecution of serial killer Robert William Pickton. More broadly, she has a thriving practice in the realm of civilian oversight of policing, regularly appearing as counsel in contentious Police Act proceedings. She also represents clients before the Human Rights Tribunal.
Claire is occasionally retained by the Attorney General to act as ad hoc Crown counsel, prosecuting criminal cases. This opportunity provides her with valuable knowledge about being on the other side of criminal cases, which is of great benefit to her clients charged with criminal offences.
An astute trial lawyer and a skilled, level-headed negotiator with a strong record of success both in and out of Court, Claire is a dedicated advocate who is known for her preparation, persistence and attention to detail.
Education & Memberships
Claire graduated from the University of Victoria’s Faculty of Law. She holds an Honours degree in Sociology and Family and Child Studies from the University of Guelph, which has proven to be beneficial in assisting clients who are charged with very personal or family-based crimes, such as domestic assault, sexual assault and incest.
Claire is a member of the Canadian Bar Association, the Criminal Defence Advocacy Society (C-DAS), the Association of Legal Aid Lawyers, and sits on the Criminal Defense Committee of the Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia. She volunteers her time to mentor younger counsel, to speak on various topics at Professional conferences and seminars, and participates in assessments at mock trials and negotiations. Currently Claire is advocating for a formal judicial mentoring program, as well as a parental benefits program through the Law Society of British Columbia.
There are many forms of assault including domestic assault, spousal assault, assaults on other people (friends or strangers), sexual assault, assault with a weapon and aggravated assault. Assault charges usually fall into three general categories: criminal harassment, uttering threats or actual physical assaults. The maximum penalty for an assault conviction is five years imprisonment, although more serious assaults may provoke harsher punishment by the Court.
If you’ve been involved in an altercation that caused injury or bodily harm, that same person who filed the assault charge may also sue you for civil damages during or after your criminal case. Being mindful of this, our accomplished assault lawyers will be very calculated in their approach throughout the proceedings, ensuring that we protect your interests at all times.
Spousal Assault & Domestic Assault
Domestic assault involves a dispute within a home between people living together. A spousal assault involves a dispute between two people in a relationship, whether they be dating, common law or married. These types of assault charges are taken very seriously by society and are vigorously prosecuted by Crown counsel.
If you’ve been charged with domestic assault and/or spousal assault, do not speak with anyone about the charge until you’ve consulted an experienced assault lawyer. Your Pender Litigation lawyer will advise you on your rights and explain your available defences. We’ll then conduct the case in a way that best fits the situation, whether that’s an aggressive attack of the alleged victim at trial, or a collaborative approach involving the prosecutor. Either way, Pender Litigation assault lawyers will always take into account your unique circumstances, as well as the effect on your family.
Sexual Assault Charges
Sexual offences carry a huge stigma. We have vast experience dealing with sensitive and highly publicized cases. If you are facing sexual assault charges such as sexual exploitation, sexual interference, sexual touching, possession of child pornography, internet luring, voyeurism, indecent acts or other sexual crimes, we will strive to protect your privacy. We understand the importance in proceeding with the utmost discretion with sexual assault charges, including appearing on your behalf in court so you can avoid scrutiny by the public.
DUI & Other Driving Offences
DUI (Driving Under the Influence) or “impaired driving”, refusing to provide a breath sample, driving while prohibited and dangerous driving are the most commonly charged driving offences. All carry penalties involving license suspensions and hefty financial implications. Bolton Hatcher Dance’s DUI lawyers know this area of the law from the inside out: it was one of the key areas of law that our criminal law firm was founded on in 1982, and has been a major part of our practice ever since. Lawyers from across British Columbia and Canada frequently seek the expertise of our driving lawyers when it comes to defending DUI cases.
DUI / Impaired Driving
In addition to a criminal charge in the Courts, DUI offences include a 90-day Immediate Roadside Prohibition (IRP) and a vehicle impoundment for up to 30 days—even if it’s not your vehicle. If convicted by the Court, the consequences are even more crippling: an automatic one-year driving prohibition, a minimum $1,000 fine and a criminal record. Before you can get back on the road, you must pay for and complete the Responsible Driver Program, acquire and manage the Ignition Interlock device, and pay for a very costly increase in car insurance.
Impaired Driving Defence
The only way to fight DUI charges is with a deep knowledge of this area of law and the dozens of available defences. The DUI lawyers in our Vancouver office know all of these driving defences from decades of experience and insight into what works (and what doesn’t). Bolton Hatcher Dance’s long-standing professional reputation in the area of driving offences also means that the Crown prosecutors trust us. They know they can rely on our statements and approach, which is extremely helpful during pre-trial negotiations.
Besides dealing with the criminal charges, our DUI lawyers will act as your point person with ICBC. Dealing with this Provincial body can be incredibly frustrating. Pender Litigation’s driving lawyers have the knack for working the ICBC system, saving you time and additional stress. Our DUI lawyers will fight for you at every stage of the process.
Being caught driving while prohibited can be an incredibly expensive act, involving fines and fees, additional driving prohibitions (such as an automatic 12-month prohibition) and potential jail time. The worst of it, of course, is losing your ability to drive—especially if you depend on your driver’s license for work.
If you have received an Immediate Roadside Prohibition (IRP), an Administrative Driving Prohibition (ADP), a Notice of Driving Prohibition, or have been required to attend the Responsible Driver Program with or without a condition to install the Ignition Interlock device in your vehicle, our DUI lawyers can help you get your license back more quickly.
After many years of experience handling driving prohibitions, Pender Litigation’s driving lawyers know the ins and outs of the system—and how to navigate what can be a very complicated process. We regularly help clients avoid conviction. There are specific driving defence options available, and our DUI lawyers know how to negotiate with the Crown to potentially reduce the charge to a lesser offence, securing you a lesser punishment.
Pender Litigation handle a number of drug charges ranging from the relatively minor (possession of marijuana) to the major (trafficking large quantities of hard drugs). In any case, a conviction will have a significant impact on your life, including a lengthy jail sentence and restrictions on your ability to travel for a long period of time. You’ll need a highly skilled drug lawyer who has extensive experience with drug charges and is intensely familiar with all of the available defences.
If you have been charged with drug possession or caught dealing drugs from a vehicle or a residence as part of a dial-a-dope operation, we can help. Each drug lawyer at Pender Litigation knows the ins and outs of the law of search and seizure, including vehicles and electronic devices such as cell phones, smart phones and computers.
Our drug lawyers have defended hundreds of clients who have been arrested and charged with operating a marijuana grow-op. We understand the intricate and technical requirements the Crown has to prove and we know the defences that are likely to work. Theft of Electricity charges are often part of grow-op cases and we have successfully defended clients charged with related offences as well. We understand the investigation techniques used by the police, and can easily identify mistakes and weaknesses in the Crown’s case against you.
Firearm possession and weapons charges are very serious offences in Canada. Recent amendments to the Criminal Code mean these charges carry significant penalties, including mandatory minimum jail sentences. If you have been charged with firearm possession or another weapons offence, you’ll require an experienced criminal lawyer to defend you—do not attempt to defend yourself. Bolton Hatcher Dance’s lawyers know how to negotiate with Crown so that you won’t have to go to jail.