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Viewing entries posted in September 2014
This is the fifth installment in an ongoing series of articles describing how a criminal case might proceed through the Calgary and Canadian court system. Read the previous articles in the series here:
Drug offences [investigated by law enforcement] (http://www.calgary.ca/cps/Documents/statistical-reports/2013-annual-statistical-report.pdf) in Calgary and the surrounding area have been falling gradually for the past five years, however there were still over 1,000 cases involving simple drug possession in 2013 within Calgary's city limits. The number of more serious drug-related offences, including trafficking and "cultivation" (which includes growing plants like marijuana as well as manufacturing other drugs), has dropped more rapidly, yet though they occur more infrequently these offences can lead to much harsher consequences for the accused.
A few short weeks after a series of initiatives aimed at reducing crime rates amongst Calgary's at-risk kids was announced, there's more good news for youngsters in the Forest Lawn neighborhood: thanks to funding from the non-profit Calgary Police Foundation, a pilot program will equip schools with full-time physical education courses, staff psychologists, after-school programs, and other initiatives aimed at reaching children who lack the support often necessary to prevent criminality.
This is the fourth installment in an ongoing series of articles describing how a criminal case might proceed through the Calgary and Canadian court system. If you haven't already, you might want to read Parts One, Two and Three before you continue
As you might have noticed if you've read the previous installments in this article series, there's a lot that happens in a criminal defence case before you set foot in a Calgary or other Canadian court: there's a complaint and/or an initial investigation by law enforcement, the laying of an official criminal charge with the courts, and frequently an arrest. A bail hearing or "show cause" hearing after an arrest is usually the first time an accused person will find themselves in a courtroom or in front of a justice of the peace or judge, and is also frequently the first time many consult with a criminal defence lawyer—though it doesn't have to be.
After a bail hearing, you may be released or detained pending the outcome of the matter.
The passage of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act in 1996 marked a major shift in the way Canada views and handles drug offences and substance-related crimes. Though the possession of many drugs and controlled substances is still a criminal offence that can result in both fines and jail time, the Act takes various factors into account in its determination of sentencing limits and is part of a shift towards viewing drug offences as public health concerns.
Criminal defence cases against many drug-related offences or accusations is different from other criminal cases in the Calgary courts, and is viewed differently by the Canadian criminal justice system at large. Understanding the difference might help you rest a little easier if you're facing a drug related charge, and for that we need to take a quick look at the recent history of drug laws in Canada.
Well, no one can claim that life in Calgary isn't exciting. No matter what your job or how you spend your days, there's no avoiding the weather, and there's no predicting it either.
I'm thinking, of course, about the surprise September snowstorm the Calgary area was treated to last week. Watching a gentle snowfall from my office in downtown Calgary can be a nice distraction after a few hours of defence-related paperwork, and cold weather can be great for clearing the head and getting invigorated when I have a case coming up in court. But that much snow that quickly really does a number on the city, especially when it's so unexpected.
In an article posted last week, the basics of Canadian criminal law regarding drug offences were described. As that article detailed, criminal offences involving different types of drugs or controlled substances carry different potential sentences even for the simple crime of possession—some drugs come with higher sentencing thresholds than others.
Maximum allowable punishments for drug offences under Canadian law are determined by which "schedule" a drug or controlled substance is listed on; these schedules were themselves established by the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and continue to be reviewed and adjusted periodically. Understanding the basic drug schedule system and the substances that appear on each schedule can help you understand your criminal defence case if you've been charged with a drug offence.
This is the third installment in an ongoing series of articles describing how a criminal case might proceed through the Calgary and Canadian court system. If you haven't already, you might want to read Part One and Part Two before you continue.
After starting with complaints and investigations (as discussed in Part One of this series) and the laying of criminal charges (as addressed in Part Two), the next phase in many criminal defence cases is an arrest. Arrests are sometimes made as part of an initial investigation, as well, such as when Calgary police or other law enforcement arrive at the scene of an alleged crime.
As reported by Global News, the nearly three-million dollars currently filling the coffers of the Civil Forfeiture Fund—the fund created from the sale or management of assets seized in criminal proceedings—will largely be going to youth programs throughout Alberta aimed at preventing crime.
The expenditures recently allocated from the Civil Forfeiture Fund include a two-year $500,000 grant for Calgary's YouthLink Interpretive Center, whose purpose is to mentor and educate minors facing difficult decisions and situations. Such funding is hoped to have a direct impact on overall rates of youth criminality and on assisting youths "on the edge" of criminality and the Calgary court and criminal justice system.
This is the second in a series of articles detailing some of the steps that occur in a Calgary criminal defence case, from a police investigation through the end of a criminal trial in the Calgary courts. Keep checking back for more information, or contact experienced Calgary criminal defence lawyer Susan Karpa for a free initial consultation.
In Part One of this article, you learned that criminal cases in Calgary—and in Canada at large—begin with a law enforcement investigation that is sparked by an initial complaint or through the uncovering of potential criminal acts in the normal course of police duty. Whether the investigation lasts an hour or a year, the decision to lay criminal charges will be made by law enforcement when they feel the investigation has warranted it.
Drug offences, actual and alleged, are an all too common cause for arrests, detentions, and charges brought before Calgary judges. Persons accused of drug offences in Calgary don't have to face the criminal justice system alone, however; not only do all people in Canada accused of any criminal defence have the right to consult with a criminal defence lawyer, they also have the right to know the laws they are accused of breaking and to seek a fair hearing and a just outcome.
Calgary and its citizens love a good competition.
I'm not talking about the court system or my work as a criminal defence lawyer—there's enjoyment in a job well done, but I hardly view protecting people's rights as a competitive game. I'm talking about the Calgary Stampede, the Calgary Stampeders, the Canada Olympic Park, and the many other athletic competitions that call Calgary home.