Criminal Law

possession of prohibited weapon

Firearms And Weapons Offences

Illegal use or possession of a weapon offences are treated very seriously in Canada. Conviction of a weapon owner or someone in possession, may result in a lengthy criminal record, confiscation of all firearms, and prohibition from owning firearms in the future.

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Property offences occur when property is altered, stolen or damaged without permission or knowledge from the original owner. Property Offences include Theft under or over $5,000, Fraud, Possession of Stolen Property, Obtaining Property by False Pretenses, Breaking and Entering,  and Mischief to Property. 

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Your friend is celebrating a milestone, and you are all invited. However, last minute, and your designated driver pulls out. You still decide to attend. What’s the worst that can happen

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The five main types of drug offences include possessing a drug, possession of a drug for purposes of trafficking, trafficking a drug, producing a drug and importing a drug.

youth matters

The Youth Criminal Justice Act currently governs proceedings against young persons. The act recognizes that parents should be involved in the process of any proceedings rendered against their children.

bail law

Domestic Offences are considered to be made when either a family member, or a current/former romantic partner. The Criminal Code of Canada stipulates for mandatory conditions that if charged, would prevent the accused from direct contact with the complainant or victim if conviction is made in  a Domestic Offence. 

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There are two types of appeals, both made to a single Justice of the Court of King’s Bench. The most common appeal falls under section 813 of the Code, which provides for appeals by the accused from conviction or order made against them, appeals by an accused or Crown from the sentence imposed, appeals by an accused or Crown from findings of unfitness or mental disorder and appeals by the Crown of an order staying proceedings.

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When there is refusal to release the accused, bail hearings or show cause hearings are required. Section 515 of the Criminal Code is the governing provision pertaining to bail hearings. The standard of proof for a bail hearing is on the balance of probabilities.

When someone is accused of a crime, they may be arrested to face charges. However, being arrested does not mean that someone is guilty of a crime. In Canada, everyone is considered innocent until a jury or a judge decides otherwise, and for that, it is necessary to go through a trial.

A bail hearing is the first meeting an arrested person will have with a judge, who will evaluate if they should remain in custody until their trial or if they may respond in liberty. It should take place within 24 hours of the arrest, and it serves three main purposes: making sure that the accused will appear in the trial, guaranteeing the public’s safety and protection, and preserving confidence in the administration of justice.

Jordan Applications and Jordan Decisions refer to the Right to a Trial Within a Reasonable Time. It prevents all parties in the court to suffer or cause unnecessary delay to the proceedings, and establishes a framework of the timeline to be followed, including a ceiling that, if breached, creates a legal presumption of prejudice in the case, allowing the accused to file applications for dismissal.

The timelines, found on the Alberta Government website, are as follows:

  • 18 months after charges are laid – for a province’s main entry point into the court system (example: Provincial Court of Alberta)
  • 30 months after charges are laid – for a province’s superior court (example: Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta)

Those terms refer to the classification of offences in Canada. The first, a Summary Offence, is used to describe less serious crimes, such as non-violent crimes, disturbance of peace, trespassing and so on. The consequences of those acts are also much less serious, with fines not over $5,000 and no more than two years of jail time. Another feature of Summary Offences is that they do not require the accused to show up in court unless a judge determines so. It means that a person can choose to ask for a representative such as a lawyer to go in their place to the court.

Indictable Offences, on the other hand, are significantly more serious. The nature of crimes that are considered Indictable Offences vary, and can go all the way to murder. The consequences follow accordingly since jail time for those cases can escalate to life imprisonment, and as such, the accused must go to court in person.

Some cases can be categorised as Hybrid Offences, in which the charges may not reflect the true nature of the crime committed. For those cases, the Crown Prosecutor can request that the case follows the rite of a Summary or an Indictable Offence, depending on the facts they want to present.

This act regulates the criminal procedures for young persons who have committed crimes. Anyone who is between 12 and 17 years of age will fall within the guidelines of the YCJA and receive special treatment for their case. This is because, in Canada, the goal of the system of justice is to hold people responsible for their acts while also trying to rehabilitate them into society. Because children are still developing their maturity, it is not expected of them to fully understand the consequences of their acts, and so it is necessary to put extra effort into reintroducing the youth convicted back into society and provide them with a better future, away from crime.

In most areas of law, having a lawyer with you is not a requirement, but an option. In criminal justice systems, it is highly recommended that an accused person hires a lawyer or asks for the State to provide one for them. Just think about it: being charged with a crime is a serious matter, and can result in a conviction that may affect you financially, personally and morally. Not only you may be required to pay fines, but you can also face jail time and have your life forever shadowed by it.

A lawyer will assist you in proving your innocence and negotiating the best terms in case of a conviction. It takes time and experience to be a successful criminal lawyer, and so people with no legal background should not try to rely on self-representation to defend themselves, especially in cases with high emotional baggage attached.

The Crown Prosecutor is the person who will represent the State in court, in a similar way that a lawyer will represent their client. When someone commits a crime, it is in the best interest of society that they face charges and are properly held responsible for their acts. Because of that, it is the State’s responsibility to investigate and present the evidence against this person to prove that a) a crime occurred; b) the time and location of the crime; c) the identity of the person who committed the crime, and; d) all of the relevant elements of the crime.


Parole is the possibility for some people to finish the rest of their jail sentences in the community rather than in prison. It is a condition attached to the main conviction, which means that the person is not free, but is being given the option of reintroducing themselves to society faster. Parole is not loosely given: in the federal courts, the National Parole Board must make the decision based on the nature of the crime and the behaviour of the offender in prison. It is also necessary to establish the conditions of the parole, for example, if the person will be able to live in a personal home, how many times they need to report back to the parole officers, where they can or can’t work, etc.

Probation, on the other hand, is not attached to any sentences, rather being the sentence itself. That is, a person will not leave jail “on probation”, but they will be convicted of going on probation from the trial. This sentence can be given in less serious cases with a maximum of three years of probation, in which the convicted will have to keep attending to the specific conditions of their sentence, for example, going on counselling or treatments, reporting to officers, and so on.

DUI stands for “Driving Under Influence”, a term used to designate impaired driving, and it is a fairly common offence in Canada. The law establishes a limit of 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood for a person to be permitted to drive, and so when this limit is passed, an offence is committed.

DUI is a hybrid offence, which means that the procedures during the trial, if it is going to be considered a Summary Offence or an Indictable Offence, will depend on what the Crown Prosecutor thinks it’s best, considering the facts of the crime. This is because Driving Under the Influence is a broad term that can simply mean that someone was drunk driving or that someone lost their life due to an impaired driver.

The results in trial for those cases also vary accordingly to the degree of the offence. For smaller cases, the convicted person may simply need to pay an expressive fine and have their driver’s license revoked, while in major cases the driver can even be charged with life in prison.

In general, yes. Criminal cases require trials, but the overall process can be shortened by a few measures that may apply to certain cases. The most common one is plea bargaining, in which the lawyer and the crown prosecutor arrange terms for a lesser conviction if the defendant is willing to plead guilty. This can be very advantageous for some people since it can reduce imprisonment time.

There is also the possibility of the Crown withdrawing all charges if a case is eligible for alternative programs such as the Mental Health Diversion or the Alternative Measures Program, which would exchange a trial with proof that the defendant took measures to remedy the situation caused, such as making an expressive donation, going to counselling, apologising in public or repairing the damage caused. Those terms can also be negotiated in an informal resolution with the Crown, which would also drop all charges.

Finally, the best possibility for a person not going through all steps of a trial is to have all charges withdrawn for the lack of a case. That is if the lawyer is successful in proving to the crown, before the trial, that they do not have a solid case beyond reasonable doubts against a person, the case itself can be dismissed. 

An employer can only refuse to hire a person based on their criminal record if they have enough evidence and reason to do so. In general, the employer can reject the candidate if their criminal record relates to the work and/or if the potential employee has a history of recidivism in this same offence. For example, a person with a criminal record of sexual abuse of minors can be refused to work in schools, the same way that another with several transit offences can be rejected a job as a driver. Other than that, a person can’t be refused work due to a criminal record, being a human right to not be discriminated from other candidates.