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Toronto Crimes & Misdemeanours Law Blog

Penalties expected to increase for drug-impaired driving in Ontario

The Ontario government is expected to approve a number of new traffic law amendments, one of which will increase penalties for driving while under the influence of drugs. Specifically, the penalties for driving while high will be raised to match the penalties for driving while impaired by alcohol. However, it remains to be seen exactly how police officers will obtain evidence that proves without doubt that a driver is impaired by drugs.

Currently, drivers in Ontario are subject to an immediate, three-day licence suspension if their blood-alcohol concentration is found to be more than 50 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood. The suspension is lengthier for each subsequent offence and if the driver's BAC is found to be over 80 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood.

Judge rules broad search and seizure of child porn unwarranted

As is stated in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Canadians are legally afforded the freedom from unreasonable search and seizure. In other words, you should be able to have a reasonable expectation of privacy. In one of our earlier posts, we discussed the matter in relation to a drug crime case that was heard by the British Columbia Court of Appeal.

In a more recent court decision in Ontario, a judge found that Waterloo Regional Police used overzealous tactics to seize evidence against a Kitchener man accused of accessing child pornography. Because the police search was so exhaustive and broad, rather than specific to the videos and images believed to be linked to the defendant, much evidence was excluded from the prosecution's case.

Each sexual assault case requires a unique criminal defence

Sexual assault is a crime with serious legal consequences that can affect the accused for the rest of his or her life. A strong criminal defence is necessary in any such case to protect the accused from prison time and other penalties, including a lifelong requirement to file as a sex offender. As each case is different, a unique defence strategy must be developed for each individual accused of a sexual offence.

Lawyers at Neuberger & Partners LLP take a team approach to defending against charges of sexual assault and other sex-related crimes. It is often necessary to use a wide range of resources, including technology specialists, private investigators and forensics experts, to uncover important evidence that goes beyond the facts presented by the prosecution. The results of this kind of investigating must also be presented by an experienced criminal defence lawyer to effectively challenge the prosecution's claims.

Sexual assault charges leveled against Mississauga psychologist

We've written before about the negative impact a criminal charge can have on a professional's career and reputation. An accused individual doesn't even have to be convicted for an allegation to damage his or her career. For example, consider our recent post on the restrictions placed on a Mississauga physician's practice.

Now another Mississauga professional is facing serious criminal charges in connection with allegations that date back to 2001. Three counts of sexual assault have been brought against a former psychologist who was already disciplined in 2012 by the College of Psychologists of Ontario (CPO). Investigators recently arrested the man after a patient reported the alleged misconduct to legal authorities.

When a civil financial matter turns into a criminal investigation

Cases involving allegations of white collar crime can be extremely complex. They often require the consideration of a high volume of documents, the meaning of which can be interpreted in numerous ways. In many cases, what started out as a civil matter -- bankruptcy, for example -- leads to a criminal investigation, and individuals accused of white collar crimes need the help of corporate, civil and criminal defence lawyers.

At Neuberger & Associates LLP, we have experience in working with civil lawyers to protect the interests of business clients. Depending on the circumstances of the case, early legal intervention could help prevent criminal charges from being filed. If criminal allegations are leveled against a business client, then a criminal defence lawyer can ensure that the evidence is thoroughly evaluated with a view toward protecting the client from any negative consequences.

Allegations of domestic assault must be carefully analyzed

When a person is accused of a violent crime, the general public tends to assume that the person is guilty before the case even goes to trial. However, every defendant has a legal right to challenge the evidence presented by the prosecution, and in many cases, an effective legal defence is able to have some or all of the charges dropped in the pre-trial phase.

Domestic violence, in particular, draws heightened public attention, especially with the increased focus on this type of crime in recent media reports. As we discussed in a recent post, domestic violence is certainly a serious problem in Toronto and throughout Canada. Nonetheless, every allegation of domestic assault must be carefully analyzed to protect against false allegations and overcharging.

Witness testimony in question in Windsor sexual assault case

Questions regarding the reliability of witness statements often come up in sexual assault cases, especially if it is believed that alcohol or drugs may have clouded the witness' memory. The veracity of witness testimony can also be compromised if the court hears that the witness has ulterior motives for making statements against the accused.

All of these issues are likely to be addressed in a trial currently underway in Windsor. A former Windsor Spitfire has been accused of sexually assaulting a young woman in the bathroom of a pub. Specifically, the 20-year-old man is accused of entering a stall in the men's washroom, which the young woman was using, and forcing the woman to touch his penis. Accounts of the incident have been conflicting, however.

Evidence thrown out after officer 'fabricated' drug transaction

Police officers must follow proper procedure when gathering evidence to obtain a search warrant. A mistake at any point in the process could later result in evidence being thrown out. Often such mistakes are unintentional, but occasionally police officers are found to have brazenly broken the law in the pursuit of criminal charges.

Recently, an Ontario judge threw out the evidence against a convenience store employee who was charged with weapons possession and drug trafficking. An informant reportedly tipped off police that illegal drug transactions had taken place where the employee worked. A drug squad officer went to the store to watch for illegal activity, and the officer claimed to have witnessed the employee make a drug transaction near a car.

Possible defence strategies in cases of impaired driving

When a driver is stopped under suspicion of impaired driving, the police officer will probably conduct a battery of tests to determine whether the driver is indeed impaired. However, testing sobriety can be very subjective.

For example, the methods of sobriety testing are often applied alongside cold, dark and busy roadways, where an officer's ability to determine whether a person is intoxicated may be compromised by the physical conditions of the scene. In other cases, a physical ailment such as arthritis -- and not impairment by drug or alcohol -- may render a driver unable to perform a sobriety test to the satisfaction of the officer.

Ontario doctor's practice restricted after sexual abuse allegations

Being convicted of a sex-related offence in Ontario can not only result in a jail sentence; individuals convicted of sex crimes often face employment difficulties and long-term reputation damage. For example, a medical professional accused of a sex offence could face additional restrictions under the Regulated Health Professions Act.

A 53-year-old doctor in Mississauga is in this situation after admitting that, between 2005 and 2011, he sexually abused as many as 13 female patients by placing either his cheek or mouth on the women's breasts. While he has been allowed to practice medicine again after an eight-month licence suspension, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario has restricted his practice to treating males only.

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