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Toronto Crimes & Misdemeanours Law Blog

Ontario police engage in questionable practice of publishing defendants' names

Police forces in some parts of Ontario make it a point to publicly associate marijuana charges with accused individuals, even before the cases have been tried. For example, the Almaguin Highlands Ontario Provincial Police send out press releases that list the names of individuals charged with crimes, including possession of small amounts of marijuana. The detachment is thought to be the only one in the area to engage in this questionable practice.

According to a staff sergeant with the Almaguin Highlands OPP, "We want to publish the names because we want it to sting a little more than a $500 fine." In contrast, the North Bay Nipissing News does not publish the names of individuals who have been charged with but not convicted of marijuana possession.

What is the age of consent in Ontario? Are there exceptions?

The question of consent is primary in many sexual assault cases. Under Ontario law, sexual assault occurs whenever an individual sexually touches another person without that person's consent. In other words, the touching does not have to be extremely violent in order to lead to a sexual assault charge, nor must a sexual assault charge be predicated on sexual intercourse.

In Canada, the age of consent for sexual activity is 16, meaning that persons younger than 16 cannot legally consent to sex. However, there are exceptions. The Criminal Code of Canada recognizes that 14- and 15-year-olds may consent to sexual activity if the older person is no more than five years older than the minor, and if the minor is not in a relationship of authority, trust or dependency with the older person.

Neuberger & Partners take a detailed, custom approach to drug trafficking cases

In Canada, heroin is classified as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. While the penalties for possession of a Schedule I drug may include fines, jail time and other consequences, the penalties for trafficking a Schedule I drug such as heroin can be even more severe, even if you have no prior convictions.

An individual convicted of trafficking heroin in Ontario could face a lifetime in prison, and anyone accused of this crime should speak with a criminal defence lawyer as soon as possible to develop a detailed strategy for challenging the allegations.

Police claim GTA residents were selling drugs from Niagara Falls hotel

When multiple people are arrested in connection with alleged drug trafficking, the extent to which each party is involved, if at all, is often not immediately clear. People may find themselves facing a serious drug charge simply because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

To convict a person of a drug offence, the prosecution must make an evidentiary connection between the defendant and the drug in question. If doubt about such a connection can be established early in the legal process, then the Crown may decide that pursuing the charge is not likely to lead to a conviction. The Crown is also supposed to drop the charge if moving forward with the prosecution is not in the public interest.

What are the sex offender registration requirements in Ontario?

The law in Ontario requires any resident who has been convicted of a designated sex offence to register with the province's sex offender registry. Individuals who have been convicted of sex crimes in other provinces or outside of Canada must also register.

An individual listed on the registry must periodically report to police. The duration of the reporting requirement depends on the number of offences and the maximum sentence after conviction. For an individual who was convicted of only one sex offence and whose sentence was less than 10 years, reporting is generally required for 10 years. A sentence of more than 10 years or being convicted of multiple offences will generally result in a lifetime reporting requirement.

What are the possible penalties for impaired driving in Ontario?

The penalties imposed for impaired driving in Ontario are some of the toughest in North America. Many people don't fully understand the burden a conviction can place on them until they are convicted. To lighten that burden as much as possible or to prevent a conviction altogether, it is crucial to have an experienced criminal defence lawyer on your side throughout the legal process.

A brief discussion of the penalties for impaired driving may emphasize the importance of developing an effective defence strategy.

Study shows how easily interrogation tactics elicit false confessions

Police in Canada are currently allowed to use deceptive tactics to a certain extent when interviewing a person suspected of a crime. In reality, misleading suspects in an effort to get them to confess is a common practice in police interviews. For example, the Reid technique is a complex form of manipulation used by police, and the technique has been shown many times to have elicited false confessions.

A study recently published in Psychological Science shows how vulnerable the average person can be to confessing to a crime that he or she did not commit, and the researchers concluded that strict guidelines should be in place to protect suspects from the potentially devastating consequences of dubious interrogation tactics.

Things to know about mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes

In 2012 Canadian legislators passed the controversial Safe Streets and Communities Act, which, among other things, set mandatory minimum sentences for certain kinds of drug offences and increased prison sentences for marijuana offences.

Specifically, the law requires a minimum prison sentence of one year if the accused is convicted of a drug crime under any of the following circumstances:

  • The defendant was previously convicted of a designated drug offence within the last 10 years. (Whether or not the mandatory minimum applies depends on a number of factors, including the kind and the amount of the drug in question.)
  • The defendant is found to have used violence or a weapon, or threatened to use violence or a weapon, when the drug offence was committed.
  • The drug offence was committed "for the benefit of, at the direction of or in association with a criminal organization."

What factors are considered in self-defence claims?

When a physical altercation between two individuals results in injury, someone is likely to be arrested if police are called to the scene. However, not everyone charged with assault is guilty, and determination of whether an act was an assault requires consideration of a variety of factors.

For example, defence of person is one kind of criminal defence that can result in a verdict of not guilty. Under the Canadian Criminal Code, a defendant is not guilty of assault if the following can be shown in court:

  • The defendant reasonably believed that force was being used against him or her, or a threat of force was made against him or her.
  • The defendant acted in order to defend or protect him- or herself.
  • The defendant's action was reasonable, given the circumstances.

What is an ignition interlock device, and will I need one?

The Ignition Interlock Program is only one of the tools Ontario is using to combat impaired driving in the province. Essentially, an ignition interlock device is a small electronic machine that is installed near the driver's seat and is wired into your vehicle's system.

In order to start the car, you must blow into the machine. The device will then automatically calculate your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level. If it is too high, the car simply will not start.