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Assault is a relatively common charge brought before the courts in the Calgary area, and many cases are fairly minor—any unwanted touching, application of force, or threat of force can result in an assault charge, making it all too easy for a non-violent misunderstanding to end up with the Calgary Police Service involved. When an assault case is simple enough, and minor enough, Crown prosecutors can elect to proceed with the charge as "summary conviction offence," in which a trial takes place at the Provincial Court level in front of a Judge alone.
Driving on Calgary's streets while under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicating drugs can lead to a host of problems. The physical risks to the health and even lives of you and those around you should be your primary concern, and risks of expensive property damage should also give Calgary drivers pause. The legal entanglements of a DUI charge—and especially of a criminal conviction for impaired driving with a BAC (blood alcohol content) greater than .08—are also substantial, and can potentially follow you for the rest of your life.
A recent increase in residential break-ins and petty thefts in Calgary's Inglewood neighborhood might be the work of a loosely organized group of individuals, according to the Calgary Police.
“There’s about 12 people that we’re looking at that are all closely working together and have their fingers in a lot of pies,” said Calgary Police Service District 1 Staff Sgt. Kyle Grant. "There may be some of those people who are living paycheque to paycheque and did have a job when the economy was good and didn’t have to support themselves by crime. Now that they’re out of the job and maybe having difficulty finding another job, for whatever reason, they’re turning back to that.”
Our neighbor to the south has seen many law enforcement-related stories hit the international news of late, and not for good reason.
While it would be naive—or worse, wilfully blind—to assert that Calgary has not dealt with it's own race-based issues, including some involving law enforcement, we can be thankful that we haven't had to deal with anything of the magnitude of the several recent incidents that took place in the United States.
In a previous article, you saw that a common assault charge can arise far more easily than you might think. Any unwanted or nonconsensual touching with demonstrable intent could potentially result in an assault charge—a shove meant without malice in a crowded place, grabbing someone's shoulder in a gesture of restraint, or any other non-violent but unwanted contact can meet the definition of an assault according to the letter of the law.
Five years ago, the Government of Alberta introduced the Alberta Gang Reduction Strategy, a program aimed at reducing gang membership by helping those who were at risk for gang involvement or who wished to leave gangs they were involved with and empowering both communities and law enforcement to better address gangs and gang-related crimes throughought Alberta.
At the time the program was defined, gang violence was still a significant problem in Calgary and in other parts of the province, and gang-related crimes including drug and weapons trafficking took up much of the Calgary Police Service's time. As the Gang Reduction Strategy was implemented, and as Calgary added its own programs to help prevent gang enlistment and make it easier for individuals in gangs to find a better way of life, gang presence and violence in Calgary have been dramatically increased.
One of the big problems in cases of drug-related offences is that the accused is generally misinformed about controlled substances and the laws that apply to them. Of particular concern is the legislation surrounding marijuana. Though this substance has become popular as a recreational drug and less taboo in recent years, and the laws controlling it are not as strict as those governing harder drugs, many people in Calgary are surprised to find that the possession of marijuana can still result in criminal charges.
Every year, the city of Calgary sees over five thousand cases of assault. For one of Canada’s safer cities, this may seem like a fairly high number. However, approximately four thousand of these reported cases fall under common assault. This represents the lowest level of assault charges—a type of charge that is subject to many misunderstandings and potentially mitigating circumstances.
After receiving numerous complaints from neighbours, a home in Markerville was raided by more than 100 officers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, resulting in the peaceful arrest of four individuals.
Though safety concerns were cited as a justification for the large-scale endeavor, no shots were fired nor was any other violence or resistance experienced during what turned out to be a relatively low-level drug bust.
When a driver makes the mistake of driving under the influence of alcohol or a drug, his or her chances of getting into a car accident are significantly higher. In 2010, over 210,000 of the 1.6 million vehicular collisions recorded throughout Canada were linked to some form of impairment. Of the estimated 2,500 fatalities resulting from an automotive collision, over 1,000 were related to DUIs.
In total, impaired driving was estimated to have cost Canadians over $20.6 billion. With this in mind, if you are ever involved in an accident in Calgary and are accused of impaired driving, the actions you take immediately following the accident are very important.
Back in 1983, Ivan Henry was convicted of ten sexual assaults that occurred in downtown Vancouver between 1980 and 1982. He was declared a dangerous offender and imprisoned for an indeterminate sentence. Unfortunately, during Henry’s incarceration, assaults similar to the ones he had been accused of continued; the wrong man had been convicted, and it would take another twenty-seven years before the miscarriage of justice would be rectified.
It was not until 2002 that Vancouver police were able to link another man to some of the assaults with the help of DNA evidence; the man would later plead guilty to the crimes. Due to the similarities between these cases and the crimes Henry had been convicted of, an investigation was launched to determine whether he could reopen his appeal. Finally, in 2010, the British Columbia Court of Appeal entered acquittals on all charges, and Ivan Henry was a free man.
Drug offences remain a common cause of arrest in Calgary, and the resulting defence cases can place a strain on the city's criminal justice system. For some people accused of drug offences in Calgary, Drug Treatment Court can provide an alternative to a traditional defence case, ensuring people get the help they need rather than a criminal sentence that can only impede their future.
Part of the philosophy behind Calgary's Drug Treatment Court is that drug offences, especially when committed by repeated offenders, are more of a public health issue than they are a problem of more general criminality. This does not mean, however, that drug cases going through the Drug Treatment Court are not handled as legal matters, or that participants in the program avoid all potential for charges and a criminal record.
There is no question that being the victim of an assault or any violent crime can be a traumatizing experience. The emotional and psychological impacts of an assault event can last far longer than any physical harm, and it is important that such offences are taken seriously.
It is also important that Calgary, its court officials and law enforcement agents, and its citizens take the defence of those accused of assault seriously, too. The emotional and psychological impacts of an erroneous assault charge can also be devastating, whether the accused was acting in self defence, has been mistaken for the actual assailant, or is a victim of a malicious and unfounded accusation.
A lot can happen if you're arrested for a DUI in Calgary, and it can happen quickly. Immediate and automatic license suspensions, administrative penalties and criminal charges, vehicle seizures and required attendance at safe driving courses—and those are just the legal ramifications spelled out in Alberta's impaired driving laws.
There's also the stress that facing these charges can cause for you and your family, the practical transportation difficulties of losing your license and/or your vehicle, even in the short term, and the onus of having a DUI charge following you for the rest of your life.
Your Calgary DUI defence begins as soon as you are pulled over, and a lawyer with experience successfully handling impaired driving cases can be an important part of that defence. Many articles on this site detail exactly how a DUI defence lawyer can help you with your case, but what actually happens when you contact a lawyer? When should you first call, what should you be prepared to discuss, and where will things go from there?