Do Mandatory Minimums Work?

Back in 2009, Stephen Harper’s Conservative government introduced legislation amending the Criminal Code, which laid out mandatory sentencing minimums for various offences. Since then, these mandatory minimums have received some harsh criticism and the Supreme Court has even struck down a few. The sentencing judge is placed in a unique position where they know a great deal about the circumstances of the offence and the particular characteristics of the offender. The sentencing judge has often heard a trial of the matter, they have heard first hand sentencing submissions from the Crown and defence, and they have observed the offender in person while in the courtroom. This unique position can be pushed to the side when the sentencing judge is forced to abide by mandatory minimums, and sometimes the sentencing judge is forced to levy a sentence that is higher than what they would have otherwise imposed. Sentencing is often very […]

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The Zealous Advocate in Sexual Assault Cases

As part of Royal & Company’s continuing commitment to ensuring our lawyers are up to date on developments in the law and the changing nature of advocacy, members of the office frequently attend seminars and conferences on a variety of topics. Kathryn Quinlan recently attended “Zealous Advocacy in Sexual Assault & Child Victim Cases” put on by the National Association of Criminal Defence Lawyers. This two-day conference focused on issues that arise particularly in cases of sexual assault and child sexual assault (or as it’s called in section 151 of the Criminal Code, sexual interference). Some of the topics reviewed included: challenging DNA evidence; cross-examining children; the effect of alcohol, blackouts, and sleep disorders on memory; and how to persuade juries of your point of view. Sexual assault trials can be some of the most difficult to defend, particularly in recent years with social and political attitudes surrounding sexual violence […]

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What is the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act?

SCAN is a piece of legislation passed by the Provincial government in 2007 with the stated purpose of empowering local residents to engage in monitoring their community and reporting activities which they think are adversely affecting their property. Homeowners or tenants are held accountable for allegedly harmful activities that regularly take place on or near their property. Because these matters are typically related to prostitution, organized crime, unlawful drug use, dealing, production, cultivation, and other related unlawful activities; there is at times overlap between those affected by SCAN and individuals facing criminal charges. Where this becomes concerning is that anonymous complaints against the tenant or owner can be made simply on a suspicion provided by a complainant who believes their neighbourhood is being adversely affected by the activities on or near the resident’s property. As long as the complainant states she believes the suspected activities are habitual and for a […]

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