Neuberger & Partners LLP
Bring Us Your Case We’ll Provide Results 888-759-2810

Toronto Crimes & Misdemeanours Law Blog

Victim of domestic assault in Kingston denies attack occurred

It is well-known that many cases of violence against spouses or partners go unreported by victims, and the offenders regularly go unpunished. However, charges can be laid by police in Ontario without the cooperation of victims if the authorities have a reasonable suspicion that a domestic assault occurred. This is known as the "mandatory charging policy," and such a case recently came to light in Kingston.

During the early hours of July 19, 2016, witnesses reported seeing a couple engaged in a heated argument as they walked across a parking lot in the northeast area of the city. The female victim attempted to walk away from her male partner, at which point, according to the witnesses, he grabbed her by the ponytail, dragged her to the ground and began to strike her about the head. The witnesses called the Kingston police, but the couple walked off together before police arrived.

Drug-impaired Ontario drivers will be subject to more suspensions

According to the Toronto Sun, beginning on October 2, Ontario law enforcement will have broader power in roadside stops. A police officer will then be allowed to issue “escalating roadside driving suspensions of three, seven or 30 days” if the officer has a reasonable belief that the driver in question was driving while impaired by the use of drugs

The article cites Bob Nichols of the Ontario Ministry of Transportation for a description of what Ontario police do when they stop drivers whom they suspect may be driving while high. A Standard Field Sobriety Test or SFST is performed at the side of the road. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police website describes an SFST as consisting of a “series of standardized sobriety tests.” Several websites describe the SFST battery as including three tests: the horizontal gaze nystagmus, the walk and turn, and the one-leg stand.

Supreme Court allows retroactive Internet-ban application

The Supreme Court of Canada released an opinion Thursday that finds that a new law allowing an Internet ban for a convicted child predator can be applied retroactively and still comply with the Canadian Constitution. 

In the British Columbia case of R. v. K.R.J., the defendant pleaded guilty to incest and child pornography concerning his young daughter. Between the time of offending and sentencing, Parliament amended the Criminal Code in 2012 by adding two additional punishments that could be imposed on the defendant. 

Drug charges for marijuana possession still pursued

When it comes to laying criminal charges, in some cases the Crown has leeway regarding whether a charge is filed. This means that someone could find that they are being prosecuted for a possession of a small portion of drugs such as marijuana. While legalization of the drug appears to be on the horizon, the federal government is nonetheless still pursuing charges for even very small amounts. This is illustrated in the arrest of a man in the fall of 2014.

Could provincial courts be improved?

For most people who are accused of committing a crime, the trial process is scary. Though a high percentage of these cases are heard in a provincial court—more than 95 per cent—those who find themselves in this situation likely have little knowledge of the criminal court system.

As is the case with many things in life, some individuals believe there is room for improvement concerning the current provincial court system. Among other things, these are some of the issues that can arise:

  • Court backlogs
  • Problems with parties working together
  • A lack of services for those who have addiction or mental health problems
  • An aversion to the use of technology
  • Unreasonable delay motions

Study finds lack of ethnic diversity among Canadian judges

This week, CBC News published an article by The Canadian Press about a study recently posted in the magazine Policy Options that concluded that of the 2,160 judges in superior and lower provincial courts, only three per cent are members of “racial minorities” and only one per cent is Aboriginal. 

In the lower provincial courts where most criminal cases are tried, out of 1,132 judges, 52 are of a visible minority and 19 Indigenous. In Ontario, one-fourth of the population “identifies as a visible minority,” but only 24 of 334 lower court judges are of visible minorities, according to the article.

London priest charged with theft of funds for refugees

A Chaldean Catholic priest of London has been charged with the theft of $500,000 that was raised to help sponsor refugees for resettlement. The 51-year-old clergyman has been under investigation since February for misappropriation of funds meant for the church-sponsored program. 

The Canadian Press reports that the money had been donated by more than 20 individuals. According to The Huffington Post Canada, family members had given the money to help sponsor loved ones overseas such as in Iraq or Syria.

Supreme Court of Canada expands scope of police search powers

On June 23, the Supreme Court of Canada handed down an opinion that significantly expands the power of Canadian police to conduct intrusive body searches on criminal defendants without first obtaining judicial warrants. In R. v. Saeed, law enforcement — without a warrant — required the arrested suspect in a sexual assault case to perform a penile swab on himself in an attempt to gather DNA evidence of the victim.

Section 8 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms establishes the “right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.” The DNA of the victim was found upon testing of the swab, so the issue at trial was whether this DNA evidence linking the defendant physically to the sexual assault victim should be excluded from the trial as an unconstitutional violation of the defendant’s Charter rights.

Supreme Court speaks on Charter right to a speedy trial: Part 3

We return today to a topic we have covered twice before: last week’s important Supreme Court of Canada decision that established a new framework for a Canadian court to use in measuring whether a delay to a criminal trial was unreasonable in violation of the defendant’s constitutional right to a speedy trial. 

The Supreme Court in the case of R. v. Jordan set a presumptive ceiling of reasonable time within which a criminal trial must be concluded to receive a presumption of compliance with the constitutional requirement under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that a criminal defendant have a trial within a reasonable time. 

Self defence approach addressed in Court of Appeal decision

When a charge is laid against someone on the province of Ontario, there are multiple approaches that might be taken to defend against it. Because no two cases are exactly alike, when deciding the best way to proceed, it is important to look to the specifics of the alleged criminal incident. It is possible those facts could result in a defense that may not be obvious. In some cases self defence could be claimed. Recently, the Court of Appeal addressed this issue.

In the case, a man was accused of and convicted of shooting another individual twice. That action allegedly occurred after the men took an altercation that started in a building, outside. The accused reportedly shot the other man when the victim began to turn around, despite being told to “freeze.” The decision to do so was characterized as “a split-second decision.”