Published Articles

Coronavirus (Covid-19) and the Criminal Justice System in Ontario

At the time of writing, there are 424 confirmed Coronavirus cases in Canada — the majority of those (177) being in Ontario.  By the time you read this entry, that number will likely be significantly different. Just a few days ago, Ontario health officials confirmed at least a few cases in which transmission of the virus occurred within the community.  The numbers in Canada pale into significance when you look at the figures in Europe.  Italy, for example, recently [...]

Read more...

First Appearance in Criminal Court – Myths and Facts

I often get calls from individuals who are charged with criminal offences for the first time and are, not surprisingly, confused about how the court process works.  They are shocked to hear that a criminal court case can take over a year to complete; that the matter will not conclude at the first appearance, etc.  Here are some myths and facts about a first appearance in criminal court. MYTH – A First Appearance is My Trial Date A common misconception is [...]

Read more...

What is Self Defence in Canadian Criminal Law?

Self Defence is a legal defence (known as a justification) to criminal wrongdoing.  The law surrounding this defence was amended in 2012, and is now found under section 34 of the Criminal Code of Canada.    The current law simplied the old regime, which contained 4 separate sections of the Criminal Code dedicated to the defence (and now it is one). Under new section 34, persons will not be guilty of an offence if:they believe on reasonable grounds that force, [...]

Read more...

‘Stripping away’ Charter rights: Ontario’s problem with strip searches

Published article on The Lawyer’s Daily (written in collaboration with Sanja Mavrak, Criminal and Civil Lawyer) – August 22, 2019 “Almost two decades after the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) released its landmark ruling in R. v. Golden [2001] 3 S.C.R. 679 in which the court set out the legal parameters surrounding justifiable strip searches, police forces across Ontario are continuing to have difficulty with adhering to these legal precepts. In fact, the lack of conformity to the rules set out [...]

Read more...

What Is The PAR (Partner Assault Response) Program?

What Is the PAR Program? The PAR program is a counselling program, operated through a variety of different service providers, that targets domestic violence at an early stage.  The following are some of the topics covered in the program:Anger awareness (internal cues: psychological and physiological changes) Power and control issues in relationships Gender roles, men and abuse Anger interventions and applications e.g. non-retaliation in confrontations, defusing anger in interpersonal interactions, mindfulness in everyday life, letting go, keeping an anger journal Effective communication in the [...]

Read more...

The Cannabis Act (Bill C-45) – Legalization of Marijuana

POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA – NEW LEGAL PROVISIONS Starting on October 17, 2018, the legalization of recreational use of Marijuana will take effect, by way of the new provisions in the Cannabis Act (Bill C-45). This new law will permit individuals to possess small amounts of marijuana. For example, an adult (someone who is 18 years or older) will be permitted to possess up to 30 grams of the substance. Young persons (individuals between 12 and 18) are permitted to possess [...]

Read more...

Civilian initiated Criminal Charges

Is there any way for someone other than a Police Officer to have a criminal charge laid against another individual? The answer is yes. Private citizens, just like police officers, can initiate the process by which someone is charged with a criminal offence.  You would have to attend at a Justice of the Peace office in the jurisdiction in which the offence arose and fill out paperwork to commence the process. Prior to any charge actually being laid, you (or a [...]

Read more...

Sentences in Canadian Criminal Law

The sentencing phase of the criminal court process is triggered when either the accused person enters a guilty plea or they are found guilty at a trial.  The purpose of a sentencing hearing is for the court to determine the fit and appropriate outcome or “punishment” for the offence(s) committed.  The principles and purposes of sentencing with respect to adults (i.e. individuals who are 18 years or over) are found in the Criminal Code of Canada, while those that [...]

Read more...

Do you have to speak to the Police?

The general rule is that individuals who are being investigated by the police, in addition to witnesses of criminal offences, are under no obligation to answer any questions.  You can politely inform the police that you do not wish to answer any questions.  A lawyer, at this point, can be called and the lawyer can assist in figuring out what the police want from the individual(s).  There are, however, certain narrow exceptions to this rule.  One is found under [...]

Read more...

What is a Peace Bond?

General Information A peace bond is a legal agreement (or recognizance) signed by an accused person and a judge that contains a number of rules that a judge considers necessary for the accused person to follow (such as having no contact with one or more individuals). The typical length of the peace bond is 12 months, meaning that the person must comply with the conditions included in it for that duration.  If they do not, they could be charged with [...]

Read more...