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Ottawa Criminal Law Blog

Youth Cases and the Right to a Speedy Trial - Part 1

The criminal justice system in Canada has long recognized the accused's right to be tried within a reasonable time. In fact we've put it right there in black in white in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (section 11(b)).

Breach of Recognizance: Zora

A defendant is charged with a criminal offence, such as a domestic assault, and released with bail conditions. The police allege that the defendant has breached those conditions; he is arrested and charged under s.145(3) of the Criminal Code. Most recently, the Supreme Court of Canada has released a decision regarding what the mens rea is for a breach of bail conditions, the level of fault that the Crown has to prove in order for a person to be found guilty of the offence. Before the Supreme Court's decision in R. v. Zora, courts across the country treated the level of fault differently.

Can the police use excluded wiretaps at trial?

You've been charged with a criminal offence, such as conspiracy to traffic cocaine. The police used an agent and a wiretap to gather incriminating evidence against you. In doing so, they breached your Charter rights. The presiding judge rules that the wiretaps should be excluded, but that the agent can still give evidence.

Drinking in public: What can happen if you imbibe outside

All across Canada, people are looking for ways to spend time with friends and family outside. Between the nice weather and social distancing guidelines in the midst of the current health crisis, being outside can be the best place for people to be right now.

However, if your outdoor activities involve drinking alcohol, you could wind up facing some serious consequences. 

Un conjoint peut-il témoigner contre moi dans un procès?

Le privilège relatif aux conjoints, la doctrine juridique qui interdit à un conjoint de témoigner contre son partenaire, remonte au 19e siècle. Ce «privilège» existait en common law et a été codifié et reconnu sous la règle de l'inhabilité à témoigner. Les conjoints ne pouvaient pas témoigner contre leur partenaire, même s'ils le voulaient.

S.11(b) during a judge's deliberation period

In 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. Jordan completely changed the landscape of s.11(b) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms which holds that any person who is charged with an offence has the right to be tried within a reasonable time. The SCC set out a new framework to overcome what the Court felt was a culture of complacency that had grown in the criminal justice system, causing excessive delays. The Court established ceilings for matters proceeding in the Ontario Court of Justice (18 months) and the Superior Court of Justice (30 months), after which a matter is presumptively unreasonable.

Dynamic Entries

"Dynamic Entires" are a tactic commonly used by the police in drug investigations.  Although they thought they could, it turns out the police cannot just have a policy of bashing in your door and throwing a "distraction device" into your front entrance way scaring the hell out of you just because they have a warrant. In a case that shed a little light on the operation of the Ottawa police tactical unit, Justice Gomery of the Superior Court reminded police of their 400 year old constitutional obligations and found that they breached the Charter rights of the people inside of a house when they executed a search warrant. A lot of people haven't had the pleasure of having their front door opened with a battering ram followed by an explosion in their front hallway that sounds louder than a hand grenade, a blinding flash of light and smoke that fills their home. Lucky them. As Justice Gomery found in R. v. Bahlawan, 2020 ONSC 952, that kind of entry can have a profound effect on the people in the home, including the innocent family members of the search target. In Bahlawan the police knew no target was in the residence but entered in a so-called "dynamic entry" anyway.

The Defence of Self-Induced Intoxication

On June 3, 2020, the Ontario Court of Appeal released a long-awaited judgment on the issue of the constitutionality of s.33.1 of the Criminal Code. If you listened to the media and some social media accounts, you would likely be thinking that this decision has drastically changed the defences that are now available for some types of offences (i.e. sexual assault). The media has misleadingly called this decision opening up the possibility of intoxication as a defence for offences like sexual assault. So let's take a further look into this decision and figure out what it actually means.

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms: Section 7

Section 7 of the Charter reads: "Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice."

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Ottawa Criminal Law Blog | Bayne Sellar Ertel Carter