Gun buy-back

So far over 2, 700 guns have been collected and will be destroyed. The Toronto Police are paying $200 for a long gun and $350 for a handgun. If the gun is connected to a crime, it may be kept, but those who return them, even if they are on court conditions to not possess weapons will not be charged.

Jails are no place for addiction help.

A recent case in the news, finds a mother grieving her loss. Her son struggled with drug addiction for some time and she thought that when he was arrested and in jail he would get him the help he needed. Unfortunately, her son died while in custody and she is waiting to know why.

Jails and detention centers hold people who are waiting for release on bail or trial, and those who are serving a prison sentence. Federal prisons hold those who have been sentenced to length of custody over 2 years.  Unfortunately, jails and detention centers do not have a lot of resources, so prisoners spend a lot of time in their cells, watching television, doing next to nothing. In a few jails, there may be Alcoholics Anonymous, or chapel, but no programs for education, or skills training.

Jails do not have the ability to monitor people who are addicted or who have mental health issues, sometimes there is a special wing, however, there is minimum medical staff, and often prisoners have to make several requests before they are seen. The courts and jails are unable to force people into giving up their addictions and have treatment.

Resources like the Center for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) http://www.camh.ca/  and your family doctor have better resources if you or a loved one is facing addiction or mental health issues.

 

 

History of the Amber Alert

America’s Missing Broadcast Emergency Response or AMBER is named after a 9 year old abducted and murdered in Texas, Ms. Amber Hagerman in 1996.  These alerts are transmitted by commercial, internet and satellite radio, television, email,  texts. Details are also added to Facebook, Google and Bing in order for the largest possible audience to receive this information and keep a look out. In December 2002, this alert system came to Canada, and Alberta launched the first province-wide system, Quebec launched on May 26, 2003. Ontario also displays its AMBER alerts on 9,000 lottery terminals.  Twenty countries in Europe have some form of AMBER alert system.

The criteria a police department might assess is: whether the missing person is under 18; whether the police believe the person may be abducted;  and whether there is reason to believe the physical safety or the life of the missing person person may be in danger. Sometimes, the police do not issue an AMBER alert until it is too late, as in the case of Victoria Stafford in 2009.

On February 14, 2019, a AMBER alert went out to locate a missing 11 year old, unfortunately authorities found the girl too late, but because of the AMBER alert, her father and sole suspect in her death was located, and arrested.

Pleading Guilty

In the news, people are pleading guilty to very serious criminal charges. There are several reasons for a guilty plea. For a victim and their family, the details will not have to come out in trial or be in the news for a long period. For a defendant, they may have certainty as to the charges or possible sentence.

A defendant always chooses if they wish to enter a guilty plea or have a trial, after reviewing the case materials (disclosure) with their legal advisor, weighing their chances at trial and understanding all consequences.

A severe sentence is not a reason to plead guilty. Everyone is entitled to have a Crown Attorney prove a criminal case beyond a reasonable doubt. Those that plead guilty,  should do so ONLY if they have committed all the elements of the offence(s). The defendant should know that there may be additional consequences. Persons who are refugees, visiting students or permanent refugees may be unable to attain Canadian citizenship or appeal their removal, and could be deported.  A criminal record may stop someone being able to travel to the United States, obtain employment, or volunteer at their child’s school, not be able to continue in their profession or lose the ability to drive for a long period.  A criminal record is permanent, so any decision to plead guilty should be carefully considered knowing all consequences, not to get it over with.

 

 

The trouble with experts

A recent overturning of a innocent’s man’s conviction is another example of how experts can be dangerous to a criminal trial. Experts are usually needed to provide specialized information that would not be in the jury or judge’s area of knowledge. An expert’s job is to help the trier of fact, understand parts of the evidence and ultimately whether the defendant is guilty or acquitted of the charges faced.

Sometimes, the expert’s opinion goes too far, and their findings block out any other testimony that contradicts this. When faced with this outcome, defendants often plead to lesser charges afraid that a definite conviction would result for the more serious charges. This is what happened in Mr. Blackett’s case. Fortunately, the system worked to overturn his conviction, but unfortunately, after he served his sentence. Experts can be useful but their findings should be independently tested.

https://www.thestar.com/news/investigations/2018/10/02/what-happened-to-oneil-blackett-is-a-tragedy-judge-says-in-wrongful-conviction-case.html

Hand gun ban

Given the number of shootings in the Greater Toronto Area this summer, Mayor Tory is seeking to ban hand guns in Toronto. Although it seems like a good ideal there are many reasons why it will not work. One is enforcement, how would a ban be monitored, random police checks? two, often these crimes are committed by stolen or illegally trafficked hand guns, so again how would we stop these guns from being stolen? Three, a city can not enact criminal law, that is only for the federal government. All three levels of government are looking for solutions, many will involve more judges and more police. This is not the only way to stop gun crimes but it is the easiest for politicians.We need to look at long term solutions, such as alleviating poverty, and gang growth, putting more money to social services and opportunities n communities. We need long term thinking for these serious issues.

Delay-The Jordan case

A recent case from Alberta has changed the way the criminal courts will look at delay. The Supreme court recognized that criminal charges affects the person charged, the victims and witnesses and society wanting a quick resolution of matters. Due to longer and more complex trials, self-represented persons, reduction of legal aid certificates and not enough courts and judges, trials are delayed months and years, with the accused person spending months and years on restrictive bail conditions.

Jordan, 2016 SCC 27 seeks to change all that.

Bail

  1. What is a surety?

A surety is someone, that the defendant knows, that volunteers to pledge two things money and supervision. A surety supervises the defendant in the community, makes sure they follow the conditions of their bail and is prepared to call the police if there are any breaches of bail.

  1. Can more than one person be a surety?

Yes, depending on the circumstances

  1. Does the surety have to provide the money right away?

A cash bail may be ordered if the defendant lives over 200 km from the area/courthouse where they get bail, or if the charges are very serious. Usually, the surety pledges the money, understanding this money is at risk if they do not enforce the bail conditions.

  1. Is it automatic for the surety to lose their money if the defendant breaches?

Only if the Crown Attorney notes the bail for estreatment,

  1. What is estreatment?

This is a hearing at the Superior Court of Justice, where the surety testifies how they supervised the defendant.

  1. Can I be a surety if I have a criminal record?

That depends. If the proposed surety is still on probation or a peace bond it might not be possible. If the record is old, over 5 years, that is possible.

  1. Can I be a surety for more than one person?

Usually, no as being a surety is a big responsibility.

  1. What are the minimum requirements of a surety?

At least 18 years old, a Canadian citizen or permanent record, not a surety for anyone else and have assets (savings, RRSP, house, car(in some jurisdictions).

  1. The defendant is not following his bail conditions, what are my options?

You can contact the police, attend at the court where you signed the bail and ask to be removed as a surety. You will be responsible for the defendant until s/he gets re-arrested.

  1. If I am removed as a surety, can I be a surety again for the same person?

It depends, if you turned them in and then change your mind, it may be possible.

  1. What are some conditions that could be imposed on a defendant?

Some frequent conditions, to not have contact with the complainant/witness, no weapons, and not to attend at a specific address.

  1. Can I suggest some conditions?

Yes. Your conditions could also be the house rules if the defendant lives with you.

  1. Does the defendant have to live with me?

It depends, it may be easier to supervise the defendant if they are closer.

  1. How long could someone be on bail?

A person is on bail until their charges are dealt with either by a plea, trial or withdrawal.

  1. What is a recognizance?

It is a listing of the defendant’s charges and conditions and the amount of the bail. A copy is given to the surety.

  1. When should I carry the recognizance?

All the time, if you are required to attend court on the weekend, bring a copy of bail.

  1. My family member has been arrested Friday night. Do we have to wait until Monday to attend court?

There is a court opened 365 days a year in each jurisdiction: Brampton, Toronto (Old City Hall), Newmarket, Hamilton, Oshawa.

  1. My child has breached his bail, can I sign again?

Often the courts allow a parent to sign multiple bails for a young person, who is between 12-17 years of age.

  1. The defendant/surety want to change conditions on the bail, how is that

done?

If the defendant has a lawyer, the lawyer can contact the assigned Crown Attorney and ask to vary the bail conditions. If the defendant does not have a lawyer they may get assistance at the duty counsel’s office, who can have a meeting with the Crown and request changes to the bail.

  1. How long does it take to vary the bail conditions?

Depends on how quickly the Crown Attorney can contact the officer in charge (OIC) of the file and receive an answer and whether the defendant has proof of why the change is needed.

  1. What proof is needed to vary the bail conditions?

A job letter, job/school schedule, lease showing a new address.

  1. Can the bail be changed if the Crown Attorney does not agree?

Depends, counsel for the defendant will have to bring an bail review application before the Superior Court of Justice to argue the bail variation.

  1. What is required for a bail review?

The transcript of the bail hearing, affidavits from the defendant and surety requesting the change(s) to the bail.

  1. How will I know if and when the bail is changed?

A bail variation form will have to be signed by the defendant, surety, Crown Attorney and justice before the bail is varied.

  1. I am going on a holiday without the defendant, can someone else be a surety while I am gone?

No, a person can not substitute a surety on their own.

  1. How many chances does someone have for bail?

An initial bail hearing, if detained, counsel can bring a bail review before the Superior Court of Justice (see #23). A bail hearing can occur after a preliminary hearing. If the defendant is a young person, a bail de novo can occur on another date.

  1. The defendant was released, now the Crown Attorney is trying to get the defendant detained, can they do this?

Yes.

  1. Can someone give me money to be surety for someone?

No, you should have your own assets.

  1. What is bail program?

This is a government program that provides a person with supervision if there are no one in the community that can or want to assist. If someone can not make it to court for a few days, bail program will not assist.

 

The material in this FA.Q is not intended as legal advice. It merely conveys general information on legal issues commonly encountered by persons facing criminal charges in Canada. If you are charged with an offence, you should contact a criminal lawyer – immediately. Prince Law Office 416-469-3443

 

 

 

Possession

Whether for drugs, counterfeit money, stolen goods, proceeds of crime, weapons, and guns, a common offence is the charge of “Possession”.

  1. I was arrested for possession but I did not have the item on me –can I be charged with possession?

The police can charge someone for having actual physical possession and they can charge someone with constructive possession. Constructive possession is where there is not actual physical contact but it is in a place, such as a car, house, bag, that you may have control over. It may look like you have control over a place if your clothes are in the room, your identification is near, or you or someone else has stated that it is your room. The Crown has to prove knowledge and control of the item.

  1. Do I have to know that the item found is, (such as illegal drugs, or counterfeit) to be charged?

No you do not. You can be charged if found with the item.

  1. I was in a car, with friends, and the car was stopped by police and weapons and/or drugs were found, but they were not mine.

The police can charge all occupants of the car, with possession, on the assumption that everyone knew about the items and consented to being in the car with these items. The police have to have reasonable grounds to believe that everyone had knowledge. This does not meet the test of beyond reasonable doubt that a Crown Attorney has to prove at trial.

  1. If I deny that the items found were mine, will the police drop the charge(s)?

Sometimes, but usually the police wait for a Crown attorney to make that call.

  1. My co-accused, or friend will come forward and state that the items are theirs not mine. Will the police/Crown drop the charges?

It depends. The Crown may ask for a sworn statement from the owner or you to prove ownership. However, the Crown can also continue the charge(s) against you.

 

 

This post is for general information only and is not legal advice. If you have been charged contact our office at 416-469-3443 as soon as possible.

Search warrants

There are four issues when assessing a search warrant under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act or Criminal Code:
1. was the information supporting the Information to Obtain, credible, corroborated and compelling?
2. was evidence gathered in accordance to the Charter?
3. was the search warranted executed in accordance with the Charter??
4. where there any other Charter breaches?

How the search is conducted is important, did they go to the right place, at the right time?

After the search, defence counsel can challenge the manner of the search, whether the search should have been authorized and seek to exclude what was found in the seach, be it firearms, drugs, or other things.

If you have experienced a search warrant, contact our office as soon as possible.