Drug-related allegations are among some of the more serious charges prosecuted in Canada, and often involve Charter litigation. Possession, trafficking, production and importing are all types of drug allegations that can come with serious long term consequences if convicted.
The law surrounding drug allegations can be extremely complex. Terms such as “Trafficking,” “Possession,” and “Production” all have legal meanings under the Controlled Drug and Substances Act (CSDA) and common law. A criminal record for drugs can seriously impact many aspects of a person’s life, including employment and international travel.
Weapons-related allegations are also among some of the more serious charges prosecuted in Canada. The definition of weapon is extremely broad. The specific use of any item, depending on the context, can lead to allegations involving “weapons”.
Successfully defending against a weapons allegation may involve some of the following factors:
- The police discovered the weapon as a result of an illegal search and seizure and/or detention, and an application could be made to exclude the weapon from evidence at trial;
- There may be a lawful reason for possessing the object, such as self defence; or
- There may be a legitimate purpose for carrying a “weapon,” such as carrying a knife for work.
The first step after a person is charged with any criminal allegation is determining how (and if) they will be released pending the outcome of their case. Individuals are generally released by the police so they may reside in the community as their case works its way through the court system. If the police refuse to allow an individual to remain in the community until their day in Court, an individual has the right to be brought to Court for a bail hearing. At a bail hearing, the accused person will have the opportunity to argue their case for release. People who have criminal records or are facing serious charges are often held for a bail hearing.
Accused individuals in Canada have a constitutional right to be released on bail pending trial unless there is just cause to hold them in custody.
If a person is denied bail, they may bring a Bail Review in the Superior Court. A bail Review is a process by which the accused may seek a review of the decision of the bail hearing proceedings, and the legal and factual issues involved at the bail hearing will be examined. They require the preparation of specific materials, including affidavits and a transcript, which must be filed with the reviewing Superior Court.
Breaking & Entering
Breaking and entering is a very serious allegation that has the potential to result in a maximum sentence of life imprisonment upon conviction. These charges generally relate to residential homes or commercial businesses. The allegations involve the accused entering into a place with the intention of committing an indictable offence. “Home invasions” are even more serious type of break and enter. An individual can be charged with break & entering even if no items are stolen nor any damage to the property.
Charges involving a “domestic” relationship are sometimes more complex due to the interpersonal relationships involved. These allegations instantly change the life of the accused. They are often dealt with differently in the criminal Courts than an assault against a stranger. To be classified as a Domestic Assault, the Accused and Complainant need not be married. The relationship can also be any personal relationship between two people dating, or living common. Relationships can be between a woman and a man or same sex partners.
Assault with a weapon
Assault with a weapon is a more serious charge than “simple assault.” The definition of this allegation is very broad, as a person can be charged with assault with a weapon even if they did not strike the other person. The threatened application of force against another person where a weapon is used as a tool in respect of the force is sufficient to allege an assault with a weapon. The definition of weapon is extremely broad. The specific use of any item, depending on the context, can lead to allegations involving “weapons”.
Sexual assault and other sex-related allegations are among the most serious criminal charges a person can face. If convicted, these charges not only have serious penalties but also include severe stigmatization of the accused.
The Canadian criminal justice system has developed several special rules to protect those who make Sexual Assault allegations, even when an accused is innocent and an allegation is false. For example, a complainants’ past sexual history may only be introduced into evidence after a special hearing before a judge. Furthermore, the complainants’ private records (whether medical or police) can only be accessed by the defence if a complainant waives privacy rights or a judge grants special permission to the defence to access the records.
In representing an individual accused of Sexual Assault, a defence lawyer requires an extensive understanding of the options and tools available to fight these charges.
Counsel for the accused may need to hire private investigators and scientific experts (to analyze DNA or other evidence), among other strategies, to discover weaknesses in the Crown’s case. To effectively represent the accused in court, defence lawyers must make strategic and tactical decisions about how best to argue the evidence.
Sexual assault charges are very burdensome on the accused and their families. The legal process is generally lengthy and uncertain. An experienced criminal defence lawyer can help you navigate the complexities of a Sexual Assault trial, ensuring you receive the best defence possible.
When a person is charged with a criminal allegation, part of the arrest procedure involves the police taking your fingerprints and photographs. If you are found not guilty or your charges are withdrawn, or you receive a non-conviction result, you can apply to have your fingerprints and photographs taken upon arrest destroyed, sometimes after a specific period of time.
Fraud is a serious criminal allegation with potentially severe penalties. It encompasses a very broad spectrum of criminal activity under the Criminal Code. Findings of guilt for these types of allegations also have serious implications on a person’s future including employment.
These cases are extremely complex and can include voluminous amounts of disclosure from the Crown. They require a criminal defence lawyer with experience, persistence, and determination.
Impaired driving allegations in Saskatchewan are a criminal category of driving allegations that are very strictly prosecuted and are subject to mandatory minimum penalties. These allegations can involve more than what people think of as “drinking and driving”. Allegations include:
- Operating a Motor Vehicle while Ability Impaired (Alcohol or Drugs)
- Operating a Motor Vehicle while Over 80
- Being in Care and Control of a Motor Vehicle while Ability Impaired (Alcohol or Drugs)
- Being in Care and Control of a Motor Vehicle while Over 80
- Refusing/Failing to Provide a Breath Sample
Impaired driving allegations are very technical in nature. It is important to reach out to a criminal defence lawyer who has experience representing clients that have been charged with these types of allegations. Charter rights are often at issue in impaired driving trials.
Internet-related Charges and Cybercrime
The widespread use of the internet in our society has expanded the types of allegations with which people may find themselves charged. From “cyber-bullying” to criminal harassment to possession or transmission of child pornography, crimes involving the investigation or use of the internet can turn simple matters into extremely complex cases involving Charter litigation and privacy laws. Social media sites, email and hard drives, if examined properly, can often establish someone’s innocence.
Murder is the most serious crime a person can be charged with in Canada. The amount of proof regarding the “planning” and “deliberation” of the murder is a key consideration for whether a person will be charged with first degree, second degree or manslaughter.
Theft is a broad category of property-related allegations. These allegations may involve a simple shop-lifting type of charge to large-scale “white-collar” fraud schemes. Aside from jail time, a conviction for Theft can have profound ripple effects on your life, especially on your future employment prospects.
A conviction for theft has serious long-term consequences for individuals. Sometimes where a case against an accused is weak, the theft is small, or full restitution is made by an accused, our firm may be able to obtain an alternate resolution for our clients.
Robbery involves more than a bank heist These allegations often involve the use or threat of force while stealing or attempting to steal property. For example, a person can be charged with robbery for demanding another person’s phone, hat, or wallet, even if there is no weapon involved.
According to the Criminal Code of Canada, an accused commits robbery if he or she:
- steals, and for the purpose of extorting whatever is stolen or to prevent or overcome resistance to the stealing, uses violence or threats of violence to a person or property;
- steals from any person and, at the time he steals or immediately before or immediately thereafter, wounds, beats, strikes or uses any personal violence to that person;
- assaults any person with intent to steal from him; or
- steals from any person while armed with an offensive weapon or imitation thereof
Charges under the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA)
The Canadian criminal justice system allows youth to be treated differently from adults in most situations when they are charged with criminal allegations. If a person is between the ages of 12 and 17 and are criminally charged, the prosecution of the case must follow the YCJA.
Although the YCJA emphasizes rehabilitation and reintegration, seeking to address the underlying behaviour or conditions that led to the alleged misconduct, the YCJA also focuses on accountability. Allegations against youthful accused must be taken seriously. Often parents and guardians pressure youthful accused to plead guilty because sentences are lower for youths than they are for adults. Extreme caution must be taken, however, to ensure accused youths are actually guilty before allowing them to take responsibility. A conviction even for a youth can profoundly impact an accused’s life.
Under Canadian laws, everyone is granted specific fundamental rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. If applicable to the case, potential Charter violations could result in the exclusion of evidence from consideration at trial or a stay of proceedings (also known as a dismissal of the charges).
Other remedies for Charter violations include adjournment of a trial, an order for the Crown to pay costs incurred to the accused, or an order that the Crown make other compensation owed to an accused in a civil suit involving Charter damages.
Charter litigation is a very complicated and highly technical area of the law.
If you have been convicted of an allegation and you would like us to review what occurred in the lower Court and determine if you have merits to appeal your conviction, we can help. A conviction may not be the end of the road for you. Our firm has handled various appellate-level cases, often with successful outcomes. You should contact us as soon as possible, as there are timelines we must adhere to when appealing a conviction.