Marion & Runyon


Sarah Runyon

Criminal Lawyer

Sarah Runyon practices exclusively in the area of criminal litigation and appeals. She regularly appears in all levels of court in British Columbia, including the Supreme Court of Canada.

Sarah regularly defends clients charged with a range of offences from first degree murder, manslaughter, drug trafficking offences to lower-level offences including property offences, and breaches of administrative court orders.

Sarah previously clerked for several Justices of the British Columbia Supreme Court. She is a former Fulbright Scholar and continues to publish material in leading Canadian law journals and takes particular pride in acting as intervenor counsel with various not for profit organizations around the province.

Throughout her career, Sarah has been a frequent presenter on professional topics-in particular criminal procedure, laws of evidence and law reform-for the Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia, CLEBC, and Courthouse Libraries

Sarah is also actively involved in community work including as a Governor of the Law Foundation of British Columbia, advisory board member to the Assante Centre’s FASD Advisory Committee, and pro bono counsel to a wide range of community-driven organizations.

Notable Cases

R v T.L. 2023 BCCA 167

Intervenor counsel for West Coast LEAF on a successful constitutional challenge to provisions of the BC Child, Family and Community Service Act

R v Ellis 2022 BCCA 278

Counsel on the first case in Canada to introduce expert opinion evidence on the issue of whether denunciation and deterrence is effective in combating drug trafficking related harms


R v S.D. 2022 BCSC 2302

Counsel on the first case in Canada to apply s. 276 of the Criminal Code to a Gardiner Hearing 

R v R.J.H. 2021 BCCA 54

Counsel on one of BC’s leading cases pertaining to s.161 orders


R v Zora 2020 SCC 14

Counsel on the leading case pertaining to the law of bail

R v Price 2017 BCSC 739

Counsel on a charge of second-degree murder leading to an acquittal


R v Ordano 2017 BCPC 32

Counsel on a series of firearm offences leading to a “not criminally responsible due to mental disorder verdict”

R v Johnny 2016 BCCA 61

Counsel on a successful sentence appeal on a conviction for manslaughter

Education & Year of Call

  • 2018-2019 Fulbright Scholarship Recipient
  • 2018-2019 Law Foundation Scholarship
  • 2013, called to the Bar of British Columbia
  • 2011-2012, Judicial Law Clerk, British Columbia Supreme Court
  • 2011, J.D., University of Victoria
  • 2008, B.A. (Honours), Philosophy, Carleton University

Noted Publications

The Charter and Child Protection CLEBC Resource [forthcoming]

Case Comment: R v Tanya Lee Ellis University of Alberta Law Review, Vol. 61 Issue 2, March 2024

S. Runyon, Correctional Afterthought: Offences Against the Administration of Justice and Canada’s Persistent Savage Anxieties, (2020) 43:5 Man LJ 1 – 38

S. Runyon, Effectuating Change: A Tool Box of Strategies for Reducing the Unnecessary Use of Administrative Court Orders, (2020) 37 Windsor Y B Access Just. 117-131


Sarah was quoted on CBC BC site after a potentially ground-breaking decision about sentencing.

Sarah successfully argued to suspend a sentence for a woman facing up to three years in jail for trafficking in fentanyl and placing her on probation instead. “It’s important because it’s re-evaluating our approach to punishing people who use drugs and sell drugs to survive.”

⇒ Read the article

Sarah was quoted in the Globe and Mail concerning sentencing appeal.

Sarah said the justice system has failed to effectively deter the drug use and drug dealing precisely because it has ignored the science that formed the expert evidence in the case.

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Sarah was quoted in the Campbell River Mirror concerning the city’s bylaw banning public drug consumption.

Sarah, representing the Pivot Legal Society, said the society is seeking a declaration that the bylaws are out of the city’s jurisdiction. Local governments can’t legislate public health bylaws without provincial government approval.

⇒ Read the article

Sarah was quoted in after a win for her client, a missed opportunity for law reform.

The Appeals Court agreed there is no utility in incarcerating Ms. Ellis, given her circumstances, but refrained from upholding the sentencing judge’s ruling that the sentencing range should be abandoned entirely for street-based drug traffickers whose motives are more subsistence-based in nature.

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Sarah was quoted in the Times Colonist about excessive use of police dogs.

Sarah said “We need to re-evaluate our willingness to accept that a dog can be deployed to not simply trace, but to apprehend and confine, when common sense and experience dictates that the likely result is serious bodily harm.”

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Sarah was quoted in after winning Supreme Court case concerning the standard of fault.

Zora’s lawyer, Sarah Runyon, of the B.C. law firm Marion & Runyon, said the Supreme Court’s ruling will force courts and prosecutors to examine an accused’s individual circumstances and whether things such as addiction, disability or illness would make them unable to fulfil bail conditions.

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Sarah was quoted by CBC concerning police enforcement of Prince George’s drug-use bylaw.

The city bylaw has drawn criticism from advocates for the unsheltered, who claim it criminalizes homelessness. Criminal defence lawyer Sarah Runyon says the Prince George bylaw undoes the intention of decriminalization. “A bylaw that prohibits drug use in public spaces flies directly in the face of the rationale for the provincial exemption.”

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PODCAST: What Constitutes Sexual Assault in Canada, with Sarah Runyon

Questions include:

3:00 What is sexual assault?
5:30 Is all sex between an employer and employee deemed to be non consensual?
6:00 Why was sexual assault separated from general assault? Is rape a distinct offence from sexual assault? Are there degrees of sexual assault?
7:30 If someone is at a nightclub and they start dancing with another person without their consent does that fit the definition of sexual assault?

⇒ Read the article

Sarah Runyon, Criminal Lawyer

Cell: 250-204-1699
Postal address: 1260 Shoppers Row, Campbell River, BC V9W 2C8