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Ottawa Criminal Law Blog

The New Impaired by Drug Driving Offences

When the Liberal government decided to move toward the legalization of marijuana, it made clear that it would also be making changes to Canada's impaired by drug driving laws. Those change came into effect on October 17, 2018. The most significant changes fall into three categories: new offences, new penalties and the introduction of a new roadside screening device and procedures to go with it. 

R v Chouhan - How Do We Get an Appropriate Jury

On September 19, 2019, the Criminal Code was amended by Bill C-75 which made several changes, including changes to how juries should be constituted. The changes to jury selection were that peremptory challenges no longer exist; and that the decision on challenges for cause are now decided by the trial judge, as opposed to jury members. These issues were challenged in the Courts shortly after the law changed, and on January 23rd, 2020, the Court of Appeal for Ontario released their decision in R v Chouhan, which addressed these two issues.

When may I use my mobile phone while behind the wheel?

While not every safe driving measure can prevent a car collision, they do reduce the likelihood of a collision. Distracted driving laws and tougher impaired driving laws are meant to curb drivers from actions that may potentially harm themselves, other drivers, pedestrians or property.

Ontario’s distracted driving laws have been updated over the years as cellphone use, and smartphone devices, have become associated more with dangerous driving behaviour. If you have been charged with dangerous driving – resulting in bodily harm or a fatality, you will likely be facing criminal charges.

Is Friends with Benefits Evidence Admissible in Sexual Assault Case ?

In a case called Goldfinch, the Supreme Court of Canada considered whether the trial judge should have admitted evidence that Mr. Goldfinch and the complainant in a sexual assault case were in a "friends with benefits" relationship. At trial, the evidence was admitted to give context to their relationship. Mr. Goldfinch was found not guilty by a jury. It is now clear that "friends with benefits" evidence will not be admitted just to put a relationship in context because that would violate the myth that someone who has consented to sexual activity in the past is likely to have consented on the date of the alleged offence. At Mr Goldfinch's trial, he and the complainant both testified that he mouthed the words "I'm going to fxxx you." One of the Supreme Court opinions, written by Justice Moldaver, suggested that the 'friends with benefits" evidence might have been admissible had Mr. Goldfinch been more specific in his Notice of Application about the specific and legitimate purpose that the evidence would have had at trial. Specificity could avoid violating the myth that prior consent is relevant to consent at the time of the alleged offence. Justice Moldaver wrote that the "I'm going to fxxx you" comment could have seemed "bizarre or even menacing" without evidence about "friends with benefits". Because the Supreme Court found that the trial judge made errors, Mr. Goldfinch has to go to trial again. At his new trial, Mr. Goldfinch will have to file a detailed application and the trial judge will decide whether the evidence is admissible. The trial judge will weigh the narrow purpose for admitting the evidence and the impact that the evidence could have on the complainant's privacy rights and dignity. If the trial judge finds that the evidence is necessary to ensure Mr. Goldfinch can make full answer and defence to the charge, it will be admitted. This is a very complex and developing area of law requiring counsel with expertise.

Genetic Genealogy and Police Investigations

Genetic genealogy is a tool that has people uploading their DNA to databases so that they can find long lost relatives and make new connections. What has been making the news more recently is the fact that some public databases cooperate with law enforcement agencies to give those agencies a new investigative technique that has led to dozens of arrests, and which brings a host of new legal issues.

Summer Road Trips and Cannabis

This year marks the first summer it will be legal to smoke cannabis in Canada. The substance become legal just after the start of fall in 2018, when it had its supporters and naysayers. The government, as well as many other organizations - from healthcare professionals to CAA - posted articles on the dangers of driving high and the impact cannabis can have on your mental faculties.

While all those efforts were very important and well-received, it is the summer when car accidents tend to be the highest in volume. And if you have been caught under the influence of alcohol or cannabis, you can be charged with impaired driving.

The "Gateways to Custody" in Youth Cases

If your child is charged with a criminal offence, you may be wondering what the likelihood is that he or she will receive a jail sentence if convicted (otherwise known as a custodial sentence). That question, which can keep a terrified parent up at night, can really only be answered on a case by case basis. As such, it is very important to get legal advice to assist you in understanding potential sentencing outcomes. While these conversations can be hard to have, a meeting with a lawyer who can guide you through realistic outcomes and worst-case scenarios may well ease your worries.

Conduite inattentive

La conduite inattentive est devenue une épidémie nationale. Les lois ontariennes sur la conduite inattentive sont plus sévères que jamais et il est important que les conducteurs prennent au sérieux les conséquences potentielles de cette infraction.

When a defendant has been denied bail: The SCC in R. v. Myers

When a individual is denied bail after a bail hearing or remains in custody waiting the outcome of their legal proceedings, are there any protections to ensure that this person does not languish in jail? Section 525 of the Criminal Code stipulates that when in custody, an accused person is entitled to have their detention reviewed every 90 days. However, over the years, there has been conflicting cases about what this actually means. What is the proper approach to conducting a 90-day detention bail review? Within the last weeks, the Supreme Court of Canada released R. v. Myers, where it specially addressed this question.

Supreme Court Rules Part of Child Luring Law is Unconstitutional

In a decision released last week, R v Morrison, 2019 SCC 15, the Supreme Court considered various aspects of the Criminal Code that deal with the offence of child luring. The Court was asked to consider the constitutionality of three parts of the offence, and ultimately found one section to be unconstitutional and the other two as being valid.

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Ottawa Criminal Law Blog | Bayne Sellar Ertel Carter