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Toronto Criminal Law Blog

Violent crime: Ontario medical marijuana dispensary robbed

An illegal medical marijuana dispensary was apparently the site of two thefts over a three-month period. Law enforcement authorities say that the London, Ontario dispensary, or the Downtown Relief Centre as it's known, was targeted recently by more than one suspect. Witnesses of the apparent violent crime said the suspects, who appeared to be armed, entered the shop at around 10 p.m. while some customers and employees were still there. When the cops arrived on the scene about 20 minutes later, they said the store was empty.

Cops are being quiet about the number of suspects they're investigating; however, no one was injured in the robbery. Police aren't releasing details about what and how much was stolen, either. Reportedly, this robbery happened after a break-in of the same place weeks before. 

Homicide victim laid to rest in Toronto

A 31-year-old woman who was the victim of a recent drive-by shooting in Toronto was laid to rest. The Ontario homicide victim actually just attended a funeral when she was gunned down while sitting in a parked car with three others. Police say that the suspect opened fire from a passing vehicle. The other occupants of the car occupied by the victim weren't hurt.

The woman worked at a homeless shelter. Police don't believe, however, that she or any of the others in the vehicle were specifically targeted. The authorities released video footage of the incident, but no one has been charged yet. They haven't said if there any suspects under investigation. 

Ontario woman facing fraud charges in connection with bankruptcy

A Bolton woman, 40, is facing charges stemming from her 2017 bankruptcy. The RCMP's Integrated Bankruptcy Enforcement Unit (IBEU) laid a number of charges on the Ontario resident including fraud over $5,000 contrary to the Criminal Code of Canada. She is also charged with two counts of uttering a forged document and six counts of obtaining credit by false pretense. 

Citizens who utilize the bankruptcy system are afforded a fresh start financially. The system is intended to help people get back on their feet. There are some individuals, however, who allegedly take advantage of the system and are usually identified by members of the public, bankruptcy trustees or complaints coming from creditors. These people usually do not comply with duties stipulated by the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.

Violent crimes: Woman robbed at gunpoint

A man is in police custody after allegedly robbing a woman at gunpoint. Armed robbery is among those classified as violent crimes in Ontario. The 27-year-old accused was actually charged with two similar crimes that apparently occurred in St. Clair Township within hours of each other.

A 64-year-old woman was at an ATM machine when the accused is said to have approached her wearing a black mask. He supposedly pulled a gun on the woman, but it is unclear if he made away with any cash. About three hours later the same man allegedly used a handgun to rob a convenience store. Police say he did get an undisclosed amount of cash in this incident. They claim they were able to link him to both incidents. 

Sexual Assault Allegations and the Presumption of Innocence

Any criminal allegation must be proven in a court of law beyond a reasonable doubt. All persons accused of an offence are innocent until proven guilty. That is the presumption of innocence. A sacrosanct principle that is crucial to any legitimate criminal justice system - the fundamental requirement of fairness. However, the mere statement of a complaintant can and often does result in the laying of charges. In a trial, oral evidence of a complaintant is sufficient to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt without any other evidence to support the allegation. Unfortunately the stigma and repercussions resulting from a conviction of sexual assault are so severe that one would imagine investigations into allegations of sexual assault would be detailed and exhaustive. That is not the case. Many investigations do not go beyond the interview of the complainant. This posses a challenge to trial courts to determine guit or innocence. Over the years however courts have applied common sense and a fair and balanced assessment of witness evidence including the evidence of an accused. Sadly in recent years there has been a concerning trend to discount evidence of an accused merely because of the desire to believe a complainant. Courts have pulled away to some degree from the appropriate application of Regina v. W.D. A case that applies a fair approach to assessing an accused's trial evidence. This is a concerning development. In addition the newly minted requirement set down by our government to have judges educated on sexual assault and how to assess sexual assault cases can pose a serious threat to an accused getting a fair trial on an allegation of sexual assault. With forthcoming amendments to the Criminal Code set out in Bill C-51 there will be further errosion of the ability of an accused to marshal important and relevant evidence. This combined with the propaganda being pushed into the calculus of criminal trials that complainants do not fabricate sexual assault allegations we may see an unprecedented rise in wrongful convictions. Criminal defence lawyers will need to be well equipped to counter this disturbing trend and to constitutionally challenge any legislation that seeks to foist unfair burdens on an accused persons and hamper the right to a fair trial.

Ontario man facing sexual assault charges relating to a minor

An employee at one of Canada's major banks is facing charges in connection with assaulting a minor. The 31-year-old self-described director of data science and model innovation has been charged with two counts of sexual assault after allegedly luring an underage girl on the internet. Toronto police said the accused was arrested for luring a child. In addition to two sexual assault charges, the Ontario resident is facing a charge of possessing child pornography.

The man is also a public speaker. Police believe there may others who the man allegedly assaulted. Police are urging people who believe they have been on the receiving end of inappropriate contact from the accused, to get in touch with them. The incidents are still being investigated.

Bill C-51 - Evidence in Sexual Assault Cases - "A direct Attack on the Right to Make Full Answer and Defence"

We have seen a significant shift in the criminal justice system over the past two years that has and will continue to erode the ability of an individual's right to make full answer and defence to allegations of sexual assault. The most controversial changes as proposed by Bill C-51 is to automatically exclude relevant evidence in the possession of the accused. Text messages, emails, pictures, video recordings, even thank you cards, that have any content related in any way to "sex" with the complainant will be presumptively inadmissible even though it involves the actual subject matter of the alleged sexual assault.

Violent crimes: Ontario man charged with armed robbery

A Nobleton man has been arrested and is facing robbery charges. Armed robbery is among those listed as violent crimes in Ontario. The 37-year-old is accused of robbing a highway gas station in the early evening by using a sawed-off shotgun. Cops say an employee was able to flee to another room as the suspect made off with cigarettes, some cash and lottery tickets.

Police say they were able to identify the suspect, who fled in a vehicle,  by reviewing video surveillance footage. Cops were able to track the vehicle to the suspect's home, but didn't find the suspect there. Barrie police arrested him on unrelated weapons charges. The firearm allegedly used in the robbery was recovered.

Ontario bookkeeper guilty of fraud, may do hard time

A 59-year-old female bookkeeper from Windsor may be doing hard time in prison after being convicted of embezzling almost $1 million from her former employer. The crime took place between 2012 and 2015. After an investigation, the Ontario woman's employer found she had bilked two sister companies out of $273,000 and $685,000. She was formally charged with two counts of fraud and one count of passing forged documents.

Apparently, the woman stole the money to fuel her gambling addiction, the court was told. Her lawyer asked the court to consider house arrest for the woman, who cares for her terminally ill husband, but the Crown argued that since she perpetrated the crime over such a long period of time, that she should spend time behind bars. The Crown asked for a 2.5 to three-year sentence. The accused has no criminal record.

Ontario subway fatality treated as a homicide by police

Police say the latest fatality in Toronto's subway wasn't an accident. They are treating the death of a man in his 20s at one of Ontario's busiest subway stations as a homicide. Police were called to the Yonge and Bloor Street station where they found the man had been killed by one of the subway trains. They later arrested a 40-year-old male suspect but have not yet laid charges. 

Cops reviewed video footage of the incident to come to the homicide conclusion. The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) said it will see that the driver of the subway train receives any emotional support and help, if needed. A TTC spokesperson said the fatality is likely an isolated incident since deaths are rare on the subway system with the last homicide there occurring in 1997 when someone was shoved onto the tracks of an oncoming train.


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