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Ottawa Criminal Law Blog

SCC Decision Clarifies Right of Privacy in Shared Digital Devices

In December the Supreme Court of Canada released their decision in R v Reeves. This decision considered what expectation of privacy an individual has in a shared digital device, such as a shared computer or tablet. The Court found that a third-party, even one who has access to the shared device, cannot unilaterally consent to a police search and seizure of the device.

Failing to Remain at the Scene of an Accident

It can be an offence to leave the scene of an accident in certain circumstances.  If you are driving a car, a boat or even flying an airplane and get into an accident with another person or vehicle you have a responsibility to remain at the scene and provide certain information.  You must give your name and address and, where any person has been injured or appears to require assistance, offer assistance.  If you do not provide this information there is an automatic presumption that you were trying to avoid civil or criminal liability, which is what is required for the prosecutor to prove the case.

How Do the Police Prove You are Driving High?

Now that marijuana is legal in Canada, the likelihood of people driving high (or mpaired by marijuana) has risen. Unlike alcohol, however, there is no easy test to determine if someone is legally impaired by marijuana. The Federal Government has approved a device, the Drager DrugTest 5000, that tests saliva to determine the concentration of THC, but there has been concerns raised surrounding this machine to the point both the Ottawa Police Service [link: https://globalnews.ca/news/4441503/no-plans-roadside-device-saliva-pot-ottawa-police] and the RCMP [link: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/drug-impaired-driving-tests-1.4891163].

Mandatory Minimum Sentence for Reckless Discharge of a Firearm Struck Down

Over the last few years, multiple mandatory minimum sentences have been challenged in courts across Canada. The federal government has also toyed with the idea of repealing a number of these sentences that came into force during the Conservative government. However, there has been little action on this front from the Liberals and so it seems to be left to the courts to determine the constitutionality of each mandatory minimum sentence case-by-case. In June of this year, the British Columbia Supreme Court (BCSC) reviewed two firearm offences that each carry a 5-year mandatory minimum sentence in the case of R. v. Dingwall (Dingwall).

Police no longer need a reasonable suspicion to demand a roadside screening

In impaired driving and over 80 cases, the law for years has been that if the police stop an individual on the side of the road they could demand they blow into a roadside screening device only if:

The Defence of Implied Consent to Domestic Assault

The offence of assault is widely defined and can capture all kinds of contact that occur in a domestic relationship. It includes any circumstance where a person, without the consent of the other person, applies force intentionally to that person, directly or indirectly. It also includes certain situations where no actual force is applied. 

The Offence of Obtaining Sexual Services for Consideration

Section 286.1 of the Criminal Code is part of the new prostitution laws in Canada.  It makes it an offence to obtain for consideration, or communicate with anyone for the purpose of obtaining for consideration, the sexual services of a person.  The provision criminalizes the purchasing of sexual services but not the selling.  It was enacted in 2014 in response to the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in Bedford to strike down a number of prosititution-related prohibitions.  

Sexual Exploitation Mandatory Minimum Struck Down

In a recent case in the Onatrio Superior Court of Justice, the mandatory minimum one year jail sentence for Sexual Exploitation was found to be unconstitutional.  This decision is part of what is now a long line of cases where mandatory minimum senteces for sexual offences have been struck down.  In the decision of R. v. Cristoferi-Paolucci, Justice McWatt looks to two hypothetical situation where the mandatory minimum would be grossly disproportionate:

La Cour d'appel de l'Ontario ordonne un nouveau procès dans une affaire de conduite dangereuse causant la mort

Martial Laverdure a été accusé de conduite dangereuse ayant causé la mort. Il a frappé un piéton qui quittait une partie de hockey. Il roulait à environ 60 km / h dans une zone de 50 km / h. Le juge de première instance a conclu que la conduite était dangereuse, en particulier compte tenu du volume de circulation piétonnière qui était supérieur à la normale. La Cour d'appel a accepté cette conclusion, mais elle a continué en indiquant qu'une conclusion selon laquelle la conduite était dangereuse n'était pas suffisante pour justifier une déclaration de culpabilité. Sur une accusation de conduite dangereuse, le tribunal doit également déterminer si la conduite constituait un "écart marqué" par rapport à la norme de diligence qu'une personne raisonnable observerait si elle était placée dans les circonstances dans lesquelles l'accusé s'est trouvé. La simple négligence ou l'insouciance ne suffit pas. Dans certains cas, la manière de conduire sera tellement grave qu'une conclusion de départ marqué découlera automatiquement de cette preuve. Ce n'était pas le cas et un nouveau procès a donc été ordonné.

Mental Health and Criminal Law

The Canadian Mental Health Association estimates that in a given year, 1 in 5 people in Canada will personally experience a mental health illness. From bipolar disorder to schizophrenia to depression or anxiety, the discussion surrounding mental health is becoming more prevalent, especially with targeted campaigns that try to deal with the stigma of mental health. At the same time, many individuals who come into contact with the criminal justice system are affected by mental health issues or illnesses.

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Ottawa Criminal Law Blog | Bayne Sellar Ertel Carter