Archive for September 6th, 2017

The Supreme Court Comments on Bail

Enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is the presumption of innocence and the right not to be denied reasonable bail without just cause. In a recent decision on bail called R. v. Antic, the Supreme Court commented on the importance of these aforementioned rights. In Antic, the Supreme Court voiced their displeasure with lower courts sidestepping the ladder approach to bail, which is codified in section 515(3) of the Criminal Code. The ladder approach begins with the default position that an accused should be released on an undertaking without conditions, and only when the Crown can show justifiable reasons does an accused move up the ladder. It moves up first with release on conditions without cash deposit, then with release on conditions with a surety, and finally, with release on conditions with cash deposit. Each rung must be deliberately weighed, and if any one rung feels like […]

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The Intersection Between Mental Health and the Law

Assistant Chief Judge of the Provincial Court of Alberta Larry Anderson recently announced the creation of a specialized mental health court to better consider the needs of the large number of people who struggle with mental health issues and the law. For long time criminal defence practitioners, this cannot come soon enough. In speaking with CBC, Judge Anderson estimated that of the 150 new files which appear before the Provincial Court every day, 10-25% of the accused have mental health needs. In our opinion, this is an understatement. The frequency with which the criminal justice system and individuals with mental health needs interact is likely far greater. In this post, we explore some of the ways in which the lawyers at Royal and Company have seen those with mental health concerns come in contact with the criminal law. The most obvious way that this happens is when an individual suffering […]

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Do Mandatory Minimums Work for Sentencing?

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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