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December 2015 Archives

Bill Cosby and US Statute of Limitations

Bill Cosby was recently charged in Pennsylvania with aggravated indecent sexual assault. During numerous radio commentaries I have been asked about the concept of limitation periods. Each US State has limitation periods. This can be viewed as a bar to a victim's voice for an offence she or he could not report due to social stigma, embarrassment or emotional trauma. In Canada there are no time limitations. I have defended cases going back 40 years and was part of the Cornwall Public Inquiry that looked into why allegations of historical abuse were not prosecuted. There is no doubt that many victims of crime can be marginalized and vulnerable without a support system to help them come forward with abuse allegations.

Feedback provided to proposed carding rule

In previous posts we have written about changes activists have sought related to law enforcement's practice of carding, in Toronto. In response, this past fall a draft regulation which is supposed to prohibit the arbitrary and random collection of identifying information by law enforcement officer, was released by Ontario's Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services. While their efforts were successful, some are concerned about how police officers would be able to get around the proposed rule regarding the matter. Specifically, a coalition of groups against carding believes that there are many loopholes in the proposed legislation that would result in few changes to the practice.

Ruling makes it harder to obtain breathalyser reports

When someone is charged with drunk driving it is in the best interest of the accused to take steps to defend themselves from the charges. There are multiple approaches to accomplish this that may be taken. One of them is to challenge the breathalyser reports. Recently Ontario’s high court made a ruling regarding obtaining the records. The ruling will make it harder for people seeking the records related to the breathalyser machine used, to get them.

Defences to murder charge vary depending on circumstances

There is no question that being accused of taking the life of another person is a serious offence. The penalties associated with a conviction for this crime could lead to the loss of liberty for the accused. People who find they are facing these charges will not automatically be convicted of the crime. A trial will be conducted during which, a defence to the charges may be offered. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the incident, it is possible that self defence could be offered as a reason. This is the approach that was recently taken in a first degree murder trial currently being considered by a jury in Ontario.

Diversion program available to some youth in Toronto

Residents of the Toronto Greater Area who have teenagers are well aware that they do not always make the best choices. Sometimes their decisions could result in minor mishaps. Other times however, they could lead to criminal charges. The consequences tied to a conviction could dramatically impact—even ruin— their young lives, all because of a stupid mistake. Recognizing this approach could do more harm than good, the city of Toronto recently rolled out a new program designed to give young offenders a second chance.

Sexual assault charges can come years after alleged incident

In a recent post we wrote about a man who faced a charge of murder, decades after allegedly committing the act. In that post we indicated there is not a statute of limitations when it comes to murder. This is not the case with all other crimes. While the period of time in which charges may be brought related to other crimes is not unlimited, many years can pass and charges may still be brought. This is illustrated in the recent arrest of a Toronto man.

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