11(b) and the right to be tried within a reasonable time

Criminal Courts across the country are becoming increasingly more crowded and delayed proceedings are an ongoing concern. Too few judges and too little court time, combined with increasingly complex prosecutions, have created an environment where it is not uncommon for an accused person to wait a year or more to have their day in court. Nevertheless, it is an accused’s right under Section 11(b) of the Charter to have their matter tried within a reasonable amount of time, and thankfully, the Supreme Court of Canada has recently provided some guidance on what constitutes reasonable in the case of R. v. Jordan, 2016 SCC 27. The Jordan decision was rendered on July 8, 2016. In that decision, a 5-4 majority of the Supreme Court disagreed with a lower ruling from the BC Court of Appeal, and ultimately quashed the accused’s convictions and entered a stay of proceedings. The majority analysed a […]

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Disagreement in the Court of Appeal

There is a divide between the makers of the law in Alberta. Justices of the Alberta Court of Appeal decide how criminal laws will be interpreted and applied in Alberta, unless the specific interpretation or application has already been adjudicated by the Supreme Court of Canada. This means that matters which rarely appear before the Supreme Court, such as the application of sentencing principles, guideline or starting point sentences, applications for bail and procedural questions, are guided by the Alberta Court of Appeal. But what becomes of the law when the Justices of a Court of the Alberta Appeal disagree on these issues? Recently, a three member panel of the Alberta Court of Appeal overturned a decision from one of their fellow Court of Appeal Justices in R. v. Sidhu . When faced with an application for bail pending appeal, the original Justice hearing R. v. Sidhu determined that in […]

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First Appearance

When you or someone you know is charged with a criminal offence, there can be a lot of stress and uncertainty leading up to the first court date. While criminal proceedings are very serious, they take some time. A case is unlikely to be resolved in one appearance, and most of the time very little will happen at a first appearance. Your first court date is not a trial. A trial must be scheduled, typically several months or more in the future. While it is usually possible to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty on your first appearance, you do not have to do so. Before entering a plea, you should speak with a lawyer and obtain advice. You are also entitled to receive and review a copy of the evidence against you, known as disclosure. You may also want to find out from the prosecution what sentence […]

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