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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.

The News recently spoke with Joseph Neuberger, of Neuberger & Partners, who had the following to say about publishing the names of people facing marijuana charges: "It's public shaming used in the middle ages. It's hardly appropriate and in fact counter-productive to people who are integrated into society and doing well."

Mr. Neuberger explains the issue further in the article.

If you are charged with a marijuana offence in Ontario, then the charge will be included in a government database called the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC). The charge will remain in the database even if the defendant is found not guilty or the charge is withdrawn. However, you can request that the RCMP or the local police remove the charge from your record if the charge was dropped or you were found not guilty.

To learn more about defending against marijuana charges, please see Neuberger & Partners' drug possession overview.