Some offences are “regulatory” in the sense that they are intended to ensure proper compliance with regulatory regimes. A finding of guilt for a regulatory offence can result in a regulatory record, a fine, and even jail. Some regulatory offences are called “quasi-criminal offences” because they are prosecuted like criminal offences. In some instances, offences that seem to be regulatory may even be treated by the courts as true “criminal offences” because of the seriousness of the offence and the severity of the penalties.
Regulatory offences can be found in municipal laws, provincial statutes, federal statutes, and even in the rules of court. For example, the following statutes all contain regulatory or quasi-criminal offences:
- The Ontario Highway Traffic Act includes several offences designed to regulate driving in Ontario (e.g. speeding, failing to stop at a stop sign, careless driving).
- The Canadian Firearms Act includes several offences that enforce Canada’s firearms licensing and registration regime (e.g. prohibiting false statements, tampering with licenses, unauthorized possession of ammunition, contravening a condition of a license, failing to deliver or produce firearms or revoked licenses to the authorities).
- The Canadian Income Tax Act includes offences designed to ensure that income tax is paid by every Canadian resident (e.g. appropriate taxes must be paid, tax returns must be filed, information contained in tax returns must be accurate).
- The Ontario Land Transfer Tax Act includes several offences designed to ensure that taxes are paid on real property transactions (e.g. appropriate taxes must be paid, tax returns must be filed, information contained in returns must be accurate, refunds or credits must not be improperly claimed).
- The Canadian Competition Act includes several offences designed to enforce the general regulation of trade and commerce in respect of conspiracies, trade practices, and mergers affecting competition (e.g. prohibiting agreements between competitors to fix price or supply of a product, bid-rigging, false advertising).
- The Canadian Lobbying Act includes several offences designed to ensure that lobbyists follow the rules governing their profession (e.g. registering as lobbyists, filing lobbying returns, providing accurate information to the Commissioner of Lobbying).
- The Canada Elections Act includes several offences designed to ensure respect for the process of election of members to the House of Commons (e.g. prohibition of bribery and intimidation or obstruction, no unauthorized use of personal information from a voter list, prohibiting unauthorized holding out as a representative of the Chief Electoral Officer, a registered party, or a candidate).
- The Canadian Security of Information Act includes several offences designed to ensure that government employees, contractors, and other individuals or businesses do not obtain, possess, communicate, or distribute sensitive governmental information (i.e. code words, passwords, sketches, plans, models, articles, notes, documents, or other information).
- The Canadian Immigration and Refugee Protection Act includes offences several offences designed to enforce Canada’s immigration regime (e.g. human smuggling and trafficking, misusing passports and related documents, misrepresenting information to immigration officials, and obstructing immigration officials).
Our lawyers have represented individuals and businesses charged with offences under each of the statutes listed above. We are also available to represent individuals or businesses charged with any other municipal, provincial, or federal regulatory offence in Ontario. We can advise individuals, businesses, and other counsel about preventing and defending against regulatory investigations and prosecutions.