Immigration and Criminal Lawyers Toronto, Ontario



13 Jan
2014

Judicial Rebellion

Posted in Criminal Law

Later this month, the Supreme Court of Canada will hear three cases in which judges in Ontario and Nova Scotia resisted against the Conservative government’s Truth in Sentencing Act, which bars judges from giving two days credit for each day in pre-trial custody. Currently, there is a routine practice in most provinces in which judges give 1.5 days credit to make up for such things as overcrowding and lack of programming in prisons. The Act sets the maximum credit as 1:1 but says that judges can give up to 1.5 days “if the circumstances justify it”. Judges say that circumstances nearly always justify it.

Much of this resistance to the government’s tough-on-crime strategies is meant to protect judicial discretion over sentencing. After all, judges are programmed to think independently. However, critics say judges are not following the law, which should be their main objective.

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25 Apr
2013

Supreme Court to hear case over whether police can use lawyers to vet incident notes

Posted in Criminal Law

On Friday, the Supreme Court of Canada will hear a case about whether police officers under investigation by a civilian watchdog can have a lawyer to help them prepare or “edit” their notes. The case revolves around the deaths of two men shot by Ontario’s Provincial Police in 2009. Police argue that they have the right to talk to a lawyer of their choosing before finalizing their notes. However, the families of the victims argue that having two sets of notes is unacceptable.

In 2011, Ontario’s top court indicated that independent officer notes are central to the integrity of the administration of the criminal justice system and the use of legal counsel to assist in the preparation of the notes would be inconsistent with the purpose of the police notes. The ruling confirmed that officers can obtain legal advice about their rights and duties but were bound to complete their notes before the end of their shifts.

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12 Mar
2013

Police can look through a password-less phone

Posted in Criminal Law

The Court of Appeal in Ontario indicates that police can look through someone’s phone upon arrest but only if it is not password protected. The court indicates that the police can only take a “cursory” look to see if there is evidence relevant to the crime. If the phone is protected by a password then the police should get a search warrant. Arguably, there is a higher expectation of privacy with a phone that is password protected. The Court of Appeal did not create a specific new rule for all mobile phone searches.

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28 Jan
2013

Supreme Court upholds background checks on potential jurors

Posted in Criminal Law

The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that that prosecutors can ask police to search the criminal background of potential jurors. The Crown can ask police officers associated with the case for their opinions on the jurors’ suitability for a particular case. However, the Crown has to disclose the information they obtained to the defendant before the jury is selected. This issue came to light after a controversy in 2008 in which police in Barrie systematically ran computer checks on potential jurors. This practice went on for years until defense lawyers discovered it. Defense counsel accused the Crown of hand-picking jurors in order to increase their chances of a getting a conviction.

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