Archive for July 18th, 2017

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?

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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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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