CORRESPONDENCE FROM THE MINISTRY OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL RE: THE ORION HUTCHINSON CASE
I am writing in response to your correspondence of ______, expressing concern regarding the criminal charge laid against Corporal Benjamin Montgomery Robinson. The Criminal Justice Branch decided to charge Corporal Robinson with Attempting to Obstruct Justice, but not to approve any Criminal Code driving related charges in connection with a collision on October 25, 2008 that resulted in the death of Mr. Orion Hutchison.
The charge assessment review of this matter was conducted by senior, experienced prosecutors who considered all the available evidence and its potential strength in court. They concluded that the offence of Attempting to Obstruct Justice is the only offence supported by evidence that meets the Criminal Justice Branch charge approval standard.
The offence carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail.
The circumstances that led to the Branch decision and the charge against Corporal Robinson are now the subject matter of the ongoing court proceeding against him; therefore, the Branch is limited in the information that can be released. When the case proceeds in open court, the public will be better able to understand the Branch’s decision to proceed only on the charge of Attempting to Obstruct Justice.
British Columbia’s charge assessment model provides a careful scrutiny of the investigative report from the police from the perspective of whether the evidence supports a substantial likelihood of conviction and whether the circumstances are such that a prosecution is in the public interest.
In British Columbia Crown Counsel make charge assessment decisions for three main reasons: to ensure charge assessment is fair; to ensure it is consistent across the province; and to improve the efficiency of the justice system by keeping matters out of court that do not have a substantial likelihood of succeeding to a conviction and focusing resources on cases that could succeed.
Fairness is strengthened by guarding against the possibility of a wrongful prosecution. In our justice system, a person is innocent until proven guilty. But a charge laid early that later must be stayed or dismissed can irreparably damage a person’s reputation. It can also be immensely expensive for accused persons to defend themselves before a charge is stayed or dismissed and costly for taxpayers to pay for a prosecution or a wrongful prosecution lawsuit where charges were not appropriate or legally supportable.
Fairness is also strengthened by a consistent charge assessment process across the province. Everyone is entitled to be treated equally under the law regardless of where in the province they live, their occupation, or any other factor.
Thank you for writing to the ministry.
NEXT JUSTICE FOR ALL RALLY
Monty Robinson's next court date is Tuesday, March 9