Articles

Day home sex assault suspect cleared of charge

The Crown has dropped allegations a city man sexually assaulted a young child in the day home run by his wife.

Crown prosecutor Darren Maloney told provincial court Judge Josh Hawkes on Monday he would not be proceeding with a two-day trial against Jason David Mitchell.

"The Crown is directing a stay of proceedings," Maloney said.

A stay means the prosecution could revive the charge within the next 12 months, but that rarely occurs.

Outside court, Maloney said the decision to stay the allegation against Mitchell was not based on the potential weakness of the case.

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Impairment by Drug

Cases involving impairment by drug, as opposed to those involving alcohol or alcohol and a drug in combination, are relatively rare.

According to a senior Crown Prosecutor from the Criminal Driving Unit of the Calgary Provincial Crown Prosecutor's Office, there are only three to four cases a month in Calgary. This, despite the fact that recent studies performed in British Columbia utilizing random roadside testing, concluded that more drivers were tested positive for drug use than for alcohol use.

This study by the Canadian Center on Substance Abuse, commented in the Executive Summary:

"The finding that drug use is more common now than alcohol use among drivers highlights the need for a societal response to the use of drugs by drivers comparable to that directed at drinking and driving over the past three decades."

Furthermore, drug impairment cases remain rare, despite the enactment of new legislation which came into effect in July, 2008, giving police officers new tools to detect impairment by drug. Those changes found in Section 254 of the Criminal Code of Canada will be considered in this paper.

Legal Education Society of Alberta (LESA) Seminar: September 22, 2012, Calgary
Just Like the Time You Got Sent to the Principal's Office


Arbitrary Detention and Other Issues – "Dude, Where's My Car?"

Cases involving impairment by drug, as opposed to those involving alcohol or alcohol and a drug in combination, are relatively rare.

Section 9 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms sets out that "Everyone has the right not to be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned." In the context of an impaired driving case, the focus is often placed on the initial detention, and whether or not the arresting officer had reasonable and probable grounds to affect a stop of the motor vehicle. The tension of this section seen in the courts lies between an individual's personal freedom and the broader societal goal of public safety.

Section 12 of the Charter states, "Everyone has the right not to be subjected to any cruel and unusual treatment or punishment." Again, in the context of an impaired driving case, being detained after providing breath samples for a lengthy period of time, which sometimes occurs in rural jurisdictions, can amount to a breach of one's Charter rights.

Legal Education Society of Alberta (LESA) Seminar: September 22, 2012, Calgary
Dude Where's My Car?


Your Rights when Arrested or Charged

Understanding the criminal justice system when you are arrested or charged with an offence

You have the right to talk to a lawyer

If you are arrested or detained by the police, you have the right to "retain and instruct counsel". This means you have the right to talk to a lawyer without delay. You should be provided with privacy, a phone, and appropriate phone books to contact a lawyer.

Many lawyers are available to provide emergency telephone consultations free of charge, and many criminal lawyers are prepared to provide initial consultations free of charge or for a nominal fee.

If you can afford a lawyer but do not know one, contact the Lawyer Referral Service at 1-800-661-1095 for names and phone numbers of three lawyers.

If you cannot afford a lawyer, telephone the nearest Legal Aid office. Legal Aid can give you names and phone numbers of lawyers who will do work for the financially needy. If you are in a remand center, psychiatric institution, or correctional facility, arrange with the staff at the institution to see a Legal Aid officer to complete an application form.

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What happens next (after hiring a lawyer)?

Usually the first step to be taken will involve requesting the police report concerning your criminal charges.  Crown Counsel will provide us with a copy of the police file, also known as your disclosure. This package will contain the details of the charges against you. It includes the circumstances (police report) from the Crown Counsel (prosecutor) and the information (charges) from the court clerk. Usually an adjournment (delay) for two weeks or more is necessary so that the lawyer may do a thorough review of all aspects of your case and determine what strategy ought to be utilized.

Once you have decided how you will plead (guilty or not guilty), you or your lawyer will have to tell the judge. If you plead guilty, you will probably be sentenced right away (however, more serious cases will require reports (by a probation officer, a psychologist or psychiatrist, and may also involve obtaining character reference letters to provide to the Judge).  If you plead not guilty, the court will hold an arraignment hearing and ask both the prosecutor and you or your lawyer how long the trial will take. Then you will have to set a date for the trial. (The process is more complicated for indictable charges such as aggravated assault or breaking and entering a dwelling; indictable offences are considered more serious than summary offences.)

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