ASSAULTS, THREATS AND HARASSMENT
Assaults and related offences such as uttering threats and harassment can occur in many different forms. They range from mere threats to forms of simple assault, domestic violence, assaults involving weapons, those that cause bodily harm, and most serious of all, aggravated assaults. If the act was intentional, an assault can be as minimal as a bump in the shoulder or pat on the back, or as serious as a stabbing. Other related offences include forcible confinement and criminal harassment. These types of cases are highly contextual and depend on the facts of the situation. This can greatly impact the potential outcome in any particular case. Scrutinizing the allegations against you is a key to fighting the charges.
SEXUAL ASSAULTS AND OTHER SEXUAL OFFENCES
Sexual assault charges can arise in a multitude of factual circumstances, and can range from sexual assault with a weapon, causing bodily harm, or aggravated sexual assault. Other related offences can include sexual interference and invitation to sexual touching in relation to minors. Sexual offences frequently come down to “he said, she said”, and they often boil down to your word against the complainant’s. Rules regarding consent, relationships with minors, and intoxication can be more complex than you might think. These cases are often quite emotional, invasive, and there are strict restrictions on evidence allowed in court. Sexual related charges often carry a stigma and may impact your employment or future opportunities, so it is important to not take these charges lightly. Skilled cross-examination and various defences can be used to fight such allegations.
POSSESSION OF CHILD PORNOGRAPHY AND LURING
Child pornography related offences can include allegations of possessing, making, or distributing such materials. A related offence is child luring. Evidence in this area is quite technical given the intricacies of the internet and modern-day technology. There are specialized police units designed to deal with such cases but often given the extensive and large amounts of data, there is a lot of room for police error during the investigation that may be scrutinized. Such charges are subject to different mandatory minimum sentences of imprisonment and various other restrictions for those convicted of sexual and child related offences; they are thus high stakes matters for your future. My review and assessment of the file to find the errors the police often make is an integral step in disputing the allegations.
Drug offences are taken very seriously and thus are governed by their own legislation called the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. The new Cannabis Act also regulates the possession and use of marijuana. The most common drug charges laid by police are for possession, trafficking, possession for the purposes of trafficking, and importing or exporting. Even the legal use of cannabis is subject to limits that the average person may not be aware of. There are a wide variety of sentences available but certain factors may result in a harsher sentence. A good look at the facts in each case is needed to figure out if the offence can be made out by crown and if you struggle with a drug addiction, there may be different options available to you. Oftentimes, the most common avenue to fight drug charges is to challenge the police investigation in relation to your rights against unlawful search and seizure.
FIREARMS & WEAPONS OFFENCES
There are various firearm and weapons related offences you may have been charged with. The use and possession of firearms carry strict requirements for it to be lawful. Common charges include the unsafe storage of a firearm, careless use of a firearm, unauthorized possession of a firearm, and offences relating to how a firearm was discharged. Common weapons related charges include the possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose or the possession of a prohibited weapon. The main concern and purpose of these restrictions and offences is to ensure safety and you may not have even intended to or accidentally contravened them. The police also have duties to carry out in handling your case lawfully. This is a complicated area of law and there are a lot of factors to consider that depends on your unique case. I often find issues relating to search and seizure in my review of firearms and weapons charges, the result of which is often a dismissal of the charges.
PROPERTY RELATED OFFENCES
There is a wide array of property related offences which commonly include theft, mischief, and possession of stolen property. Various defences may be available to you that should be explored; the property may have been yours, maybe you had a property interest in it, or perhaps you did not actually possess it. There is often room for experienced defence counsel like me to negotiate with the crown in relation to property related offences. For the more serious property offences including fraud, break and enter, and robbery; the jeopardies are higher and various situational factors can serve to make the matter more serious in the eyes of the court. Given the potential penalties for these types of offences, it is important to ensure that the case is thoroughly reviewed to uncover defences, or holes in the crown’s case, which would lead to an acquittal or a withdrawal of the charges.
MURDER & MANSLAUGHTER OFFENCES
These are the most serious offences you can be charged with and they carry a potential consequence of life in jail. Due to the severity of the possible outcomes, they are among the most complicated cases to deal with. Someone’s death may have been caused intentionally or not and each category has its own requirements the crown needs to meet and differences in penalties. Evidence is especially important in these cases; it must be collected properly, can involve the use of experts, and is often complex. There are also other related considerations to being charged with one of these offences that need to be dealt with, such as bail.
IMPAIRED DRIVING & OTHER DRIVING RELATED OFFENCES
These charges are relatively common and can have serious impacts on your daily life and employment. There are both criminal charges you may face and provincial regulatory consequences in terms of your license and ability to drive. What people generally call a “DUI” is actually a variety of charges including impaired driving, driving with a blood alcohol level equal to or over the legal limit (80mg), drug impaired driving, driving with a blood alcohol and blood drug level over the legal limit (50mg of alcohol and 2.5ng of THC), and failing or refusing to comply with a breath demand. There are many recent changes to the law in this area and it can be quite technical, and my assessment of these types of charges more often than not results in finding clients’ rights were violated by police. The results of making those arguments is often that the charges are dropped, or the client is acquitted.
RELEASE CONDITIONS, PROBATION AND CONDITIONAL SENTENCES
Upon being criminally charged, you may have been released either on an appearance notice, undertaking, or release order. These documents set out conditions you will have to follow ranging from simply attending court and fingerprinting all the way up to curfews and other restrictions. If you have already been sentenced and are subject to a probation or a conditional sentence order, you will also have to follow similar conditions. Failing to comply with or follow such conditions can result in a new criminal charge and can negatively impact future court proceedings and bail. Conditions can greatly impact your life but there are ways to have them changed or made more suitable to your personal circumstances and to ensure you are successful in following them.
Upon being charged, the default rule for many offences is that you should be released as soon as reasonably possible and on the least restrictive conditions suitable to your case. Therefore, in most cases you will be released on an appearance notice or an undertaking and it may include various conditions. If you were not released, you will be brought into custody for a bail hearing. This will determine whether you will be granted bail on a release order, or if you will be detained into what is known as remand. There are various factors taken into consideration in making this determination. Bail is a critical turning point in your case; it can impact your ability to prepare a defence and continue living your normal life until your matter is dealt with by the courts.