by Alexandra Mamo
It seems impossible to open a newspaper without reading about sexual assault. With the popularity of the #MeToo campaign, the focus of the current cultural conversation is on the unfair treatment of victims in our criminal justice system. In an attempt to address these perceived injustices, the Canadian government has introduced amendments to the Criminal Code in Bill C-51 which seek to provide a broader role for complainants in sexual assault trials. However, these fundamental changes will severely compromise the rights of accused parties to a fair trial.
by Lance Beechener
In Canada, prosecutors are increasingly relying upon an accused person’s artistic creations, frequently in the form of rap music, to establish guilt.1. This subject has attracted significant academic commentary both in Canada and in the United States, as well as considerable judicial attention in the U.S. The issue received its most recent and meaningful Canadian appellate treatment in the recent decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal in R. v. Skeete, 2017 ONCA 926.
by Mindy Caterina
On November 1, 2018, the Police Record Checks Reform Act (“the PRCRA”) will become law in Ontario. This law will create rules for the police that limit what can be disclosed about Ontarians to prospective employers, volunteer agencies and foreign governments.
by Gabriel Gross-Stein
On November 29, 2012, Raveesh Kumar was killed during the robbery of his California home. He was tied up and gagged by the robbers, and suffocated because the duct tape covered his nose and mouth. Three weeks later, Lukis Anderson was charged with the murder. His DNA had been found underneath Kumar’s fingernails.
by Alison Craig
On March 29, 2018, Bill C-75 was introduced for its first reading in the House of Commons. Proponents of the Bill argue that it will bring about a “cultural shift” in the justice system, speed up the process, and unclog the courts. The Bill makes significant changes to the jury selection process – changes which result in more unfair trials, less cultural diversity on juries, and a greater potential for wrongful convictions. Gone will be peremptory challenges, which allow counsel for the accused (and the Crown) to exclude a limited number of jurors without having to provide a reason.
by Brian Eberdt
Last month, the federal government announced Bill C-75, which is legislation that would change many sections of the Criminal Code. They would change how juries are selected, how bail hearings are conducted, sentencing, and the availability of preliminary inquiries. The reaction to Bill C-75 has been significant and mixed. The reaction from criminal defence lawyers has been almost entirely negative. In this article, I address the impact that Bill C-75 would have on the preliminary inquiry and why these changes are a poor solution to address the problem of lengthy waits for trials.
by Catriona Verner
On January 4, 2005 Sonia Gaudet was strangled and her body was set on fire in her own apartment. Michael Kassa, a platonic friend of Sonia’s, was charged with her murder a year and a half after the offence and, based on what has since been shown to be flimsy evidence, he was convicted. This is the history of his case.
by Craig Zeeh
In 2017, the government introduced Bill C-46, which is the most consequential piece of impaired driving legislation that Canada has introduced in years. Bill C-46 will add new provisions and amend old provisions of the Criminal Code for alcohol- and drug-impaired offences.
One of the significant changes of the Bill is the change to the use of approved screening devices, known as an “ASD”.
by Richard Posner
A police officer who reasonably suspects that a person is operating a motor vehicle with alcohol in his or her body may, by demand made forthwith, require that person to provide a suitable sample of breath into an approved screening device, known as an “ASD”. These devices are approved by Parliament and are the subject of important guidelines established by Ontario’s Centre of Forensic Sciences and the Alcohol Test Committee (see: https://www.csfs.ca/what-we-do/csfs-committees/atc-alcohol-test-committee/). With proper training and experience, the ASD is a relatively simple device to use, and its results are generally reliable.
by Eva Taché-Green
Anyone charged with a criminal offence knows there is a risk they will be convicted. In 2016, for example, 64% of criminal cases in Canada ended in a finding of guilt.1 On the other hand, anyone who has been convicted of a criminal offence knows with absolute certainty that they will be sentenced in some way. Although less than half of the sentences imposed in Canada include a period of incarceration,2 other sanctions, such as fines, driving prohibitions, and probation, can have serious consequences for an offender. Long after the drama of the trial fades away, the sting of the sentence lingers, particularly where the sentence imposed feels unfair. It is understandable that an offender in this situation may want to launch a sentence appeal.