What do you do when a juror falls asleep?

Personally, I find the law and trials fascinating, but I understand they are not everyone’s cup of tea. Take the juror in R. v. Anderson, 2021 ONCA 45 for instance; he seems to enjoy other interests.  We know this as it appears he may have fallen asleep during part of that trial. Anderson was ultimately convicted. He appealed, alleging (among other things) that a somnolent juror causes a real danger of prejudice.  That is not hard to accept, as a jury’s responsibility in a trial is to make determinations of fact—a task better performed awake than asleep. The problem with Anderson’s argument was that his trial counsel didn’t raise an objection while the juror was allegedly dozing and only made passing reference to it after it had happened. The ONCA inferred from this that the incident was not a significant one. Also, Anderson was not in a position at the time of the appeal to be able to prove that the juror had in fact fallen asleep.  By not raising his concern promptly during the trial, there had been no inquiry by the court into whether the juror had actually been sleeping. Let sleeping dogs lie, but not sleeping jurors.

What are the Drone Laws in Canada?

In recent years, drones have become an increasingly popular hobby for people of all ages. Department stores all over the country have begun to stock drones as part of their regular inventory, with models ranging in price from the low hundreds to thousands of dollars. Unfortunately, many retailers do not inform customers of the legal requirements associated with owning and operating a drone in Canada. You will not see any notices around the sales displays or general requirement for sales staff to inform the public prior to purchase. This can create a situation where a purchaser invests thousands of dollars in a drone without knowing or being told they may not be able to use it. What may be surprising to some consumers is that there are very stringent laws surrounding the ownership and operation of drones. Similar to a motor vehicle, a drone must be registered when purchased and the operator must be licensed. These facts, however, are not common knowledge, leading many Canadian’s to unknowingly break the law. Prior to purchasing a drone, it is important to understand all of the legalities surrounding ownership and operation. Registration As of June 1, 2019, all drones that are operational and weigh between 250 grams and less than 25 kilograms must be registered with Transportation Canada through the Drone Management Portal. Drones that weigh less than 250 grams do not need to be registered and drones that weigh more than 25 kilograms do not need to be registered but do require a special flight operations certificate. Once a drone has been registered, the pilot must mark the drone with the registration number prior to taking flight. Licensing According to the Canadian government, a drone is considered

Historical Sexual Assault Charges

In recent years the Supreme Court of Canada has sent an important message in relation to sentencing for sexual offences against children: the sentences must increase. Over the years, the sentencing principles used to determine the appropriate sentence for those convicted of sexual offences against children have evolved significantly. With a much deeper understanding of the lifelong trauma caused by sexual abuse, courts across Canada have begun imposing more severe penalties on those convicted. As recently as 2010, those convicted of committing explicit sexual acts on children were regularly being sentenced to lower single digit prison sentences. To reflect the trauma caused by childhood sexual abuse, the Federal government has recently amended the Criminal Code to increase the maximum penalties for those convicted of certain sexual offences against children. The maximum penalty for sexual interference for example, has increased to fourteen years in prison. In 2019, the Supreme Court of Canada released its decision in R. v. Freisen, a case involving a man charged with sexual interference after having explicit sexual contact with his intimate partner’s young daughter. The accused was sentenced to 6 years in prison at trial, but the sentenced was reduced to 4.5 years on appeal. After hearing the case the Supreme Court restored the 6-year sentence, arguing that the trial court had imposed the correct sentence. The Supreme Court went on to justify the decision by pointing out that the maximum penalty for sexual interference had increased and therefore the average sentence should increase as well. The Court argued that the appropriate sentence for an individual convicted of sexual interference of this nature is an upper single digit to lower double digit prison sentence. As directed by the Supreme Court, the

Prohibition Orders for Sex Offenders

A Prohibition Order, as outlined in section 161 of the Criminal Code, is an order placed on individuals convicted of certain designated sexual offences involving persons under the age of 16. Designated sexual offences include (among others) child pornography offences, invitation to sexual touching, sexual interference, incest, making sexually explicit material available to a child, sexual assault with a weapon, threats to a third party or causing bodily harm, and sexual assault. What does a Prohibition Order Prohibit? When an offender is convicted of a designated sexual offence, the sentencing court may order the offender to refrain from: Attending public parks or swimming areas where persons under the age of 16 are present or can reasonably be expected to be present, daycare centres, schoolgrounds, playgrounds or community centres; Being within two kilometers, or any other distance specified in the order, of any dwelling-house where the victim identified in the order ordinarily resides or of any other place specified in the order; Seeking, obtaining or continuing any employment whether or not the employment is renumerated, or becoming or being a volunteer in a capacity, that involves being in a position or trust or authority towards a person under the age of 16 years; Having any contact – including communicating by any means – with a person who is under the age of 16, unless the offender does so under the supervision of a person whom the court considers appropriate; or Using the Internet or other digital network unless the offender does so in accordance with conditions set out by the court. What Happens if I Breach the Order? An individual who breaches a section 161 order may be charged under section 161(4) of the Code with

By |March 23rd, 2021|Categories: O'Connell Law Blog|0 Comments

Judicial Notice: Can a Judge take Judicial Notice of a Fact which the Parties have not Introduced?

Judicial notice is the only exception to the general rule that cases must be decided on the evidence presented by the parties in open court. Judicial notice involves the acceptance of a fact or a state of affairs without proof and may occur in two circumstances: i. When the fact is so notorious or accepted as not to be the subject of dispute among reasonable persons, or ii. When the fact is capable of immediate and accurate demonstration. In R. v. J.M., 2021 ONCA 150, the Court of Appeal for Ontario recognizes that judicial notice also has a procedural dimension. The procedural dimension of judicial notice bears on the answer to the question: What is required when a judge--on his/her own initiative--wishes to take judicial notice of a fact? The procedural dimension [36]      The issue of judicial notice most often arises when a party requests the trier of fact to take judicial notice of a fact. Other parties then may support or oppose the request. The adversarial process ensures a transparent consideration of the request. [37]      More problematic are the occasions on which judges take judicial notice without the benefit of submissions from the parties. Such conduct by a judge lacks transparency, thereby risking the perception of the fairness of the hearing. It also risks crossing the boundary separating the notorious and readily demonstrable from the disputed and controversial, again risking the perception of procedural fairness. As put by the authors of Sopinka: “Judges should not conduct their own research and come to the conclusion that facts are notorious, for, there is no opportunity for the parties to respond:” at §19.61. [38]      Where a judge, on his or her

New Changes to Sex Offences in 2021

Recent Changes and Guidance from the Supreme Court of Canada In recent years, the Supreme Court of Canada has made several important changes to how sexual assault cases are prosecuted in Canada. Sexual assault and the impacts of sexual violence on victims was brought to the forefront of our society in 2017 with the MeToo movement. This movement changed the way many sexual assault victims were treated by the justice system and is continuing to change the way our courts handle such offences. In 2020, 10 of the 26 criminal cases on the docket for the Supreme Court involved sexual offences. In deciding these cases, the Supreme Court sent a strong message to the justice system; the sentences for those convicted of sexual offences involving children must increase. Ranges have pushed up considerably to mid-reformatory sentences, even with a guilty plea. In recent years, the federal government has enacted legislation enhancing the maximum penalties for offenders convicted of sexual offences involving children. Offences of this nature have become among the most serious offences Canadian’s can be charged with which is now reflected in the sentencing guidelines. In the 2019 Supreme Court case R. v. Friesen, the Supreme Court opined that since the maximum penalties for those convicted of sexual offences against children have increased, so too should the sentences imposed on offenders. The Court provided a non-exhaustive list of factors that should be considered when determining the appropriate sentence for an offender. The list included whether or not the accused felt remorse for their actions, whether they had insight into their behaviour, and whether there was a high risk of recidivism. The Court also provided a sentencing range of upper single digit to lower double

By |February 27th, 2021|Categories: O'Connell Law Blog|0 Comments

What’s the Law on Reporting Child Pornography?

In 2011, the federal government enacted a piece of legislation called An Act respecting the mandatory reporting of Internet child pornography by persons who provide an Internet service. The Act sets out various reporting duties and other regulations that apply to Internet service providers who become aware of child pornography offences. Duty to Report Internet Address Section 2 of the Act stipulates that if a person is advised, in the course of providing Internet service to the public, of an Internet Protocol (IP) address or a Uniform Resource Locator where child pornography material may be available to the public, the person must report the IP address or Uniform Resource Locator to law enforcement officials. The Act does not authorize Internet providers to seek out child pornography material. Duty to Notify Police Officer Section 3 of the Act creates a duty to notify an officer, constable or another person employed for the perseveration and maintenance of the public peace, where a person providing Internet services has reasonable grounds to believe their service is being used to commit a child pornography offence. Preservation of Computer Data Section 4 of the Act creates a duty to preserve all related computer data in the Internet providers possession for a period of 21 days after a notification is made to an officer constable or another person employed for the perseveration and maintenance of the public peace. No Disclosure Section 5 of the Act stipulates that an individual must not disclose that they have made a report under section 2 of the Act or a notification under section 3 of the Act, or disclose the contents of the report or notification, if the disclosure could prejudice a criminal investigation, whether or

By |February 25th, 2021|Categories: O'Connell Law Blog|0 Comments

Child Pornography Conviction Consequences

Conditional Sentence to Child Pornography Charge Record Suspension/Appeals Waiting Period: Criminal Records Act 4(1) states that an individual is ineligible for a Record Suspension until the following time periods have elapsed after the expiration of any sentence, including a sentence of imprisonment, a period of probation and the payment of any fine imposed for an offence; (a) 10 years, where the case is prosecuted by indictment or is an offence for which the offender was punished by a fine of more than $5,000.00 or imprisonment for more than six months. (b) five years, where the case is prosecuted by summary conviction. Ineligible Persons: Criminal Records Act 4(2) indicates that subject to subsection (3), a person is ineligible for a record suspension if he or she has been convicted of: (a) an offence referred to in schedule 1 Schedule I s. 1 (v) Child Pornography (s. 163.1 cc) Exception: Pursuant to s. 4(3) of the Criminal Records Act an individual who is convicted of an offence under Schedule I may apply for a record suspension if the Board is satisfied that (a) the person was not in a position of trust or authority towards the victim of the offence and the victim was not in a relationship of dependency with him or her (b) the person did not use, threaten to use to attempt to use violence, intimidation, or coercion in relation to the victim; and The person was less than five years older than the victim. US Waiver A person would be inadmissible with a child pornography conviction. An person would be required to apply for a US Waiver of inadmissibility, however given the nature of the offence its very unlikely the waiver would be granted.  

By |February 25th, 2021|Categories: O'Connell Law Blog|0 Comments

Child Sex Offence Sentencing

In Canada, sexual offences involving children are among the most serious crimes an individual can be charged with. This, however, has not always been reflected in the sentences imposed on individuals convicted of sex offences involving children. In the past, those convicted of sexual offences including those involving children were sentenced significantly more leniently than they are today. In a 2010 case, R v. P.M., the Ontario Court of Justice sentenced a father to five years in prison after he pled guilty to sexual assault, incest, sexual interference, and possession of child pornography for repeatedly raping his young daughter and filming the attacks At the time, courts across Ontario routinely imposed three-to-five-year sentences on individuals convicted of sexually assaulting their children. To surpass a five-year prison sentence, Ontario courts often required additional aggravating factors including a pattern physical violence or threats of physical violence, or severe psychological, physical, or emotional harm. More recently, there has been a shift in the way courts throughout the country sentence those convicted of sexual offences against children. With a deeper understanding of the lifelong trauma suffered by victims of sexual assault, courts have begun to take a more hardline approach to sentencing these types of offenders. The federal government has also enacted legislation codifying deeper protections for child victims of sex assault and harsher penalties for offenders. For example, in 2015, the Canadian government enacted the Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act. The Act amended the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act and the Sex Offender Information Act to enhance penalties for those who are convicted, ensure spouses are competent and compellable witnesses in child pornography cases and to increase reporting obligations for sex offenders. In 2020, the Supreme

By |February 20th, 2021|Categories: O'Connell Law Blog|0 Comments

Executing a Search Warrant & Implementing the Arrested Person’s Right to Consult with Counsel in Private

The opportunity to consult counsel in private is a vital component of the s.10(b) right.        R. v. Playford(1987), 63 O.R. (2d) 289 (Ont. C.A.) at para 31;        R. v. McKane(1987), 35 C.C.C. (3d) 481 (Ont. C.A.) at p. 134. Once an accused has requested that he be permitted to consult counsel, that carries with it, to the knowledge of the police, a right to have the consultation in private, so far as circumstances permit.        R. v. Doherty(1974), 1974 CanLII 1531 (NS CA). In R. v. Pileggi, 2021 ONCA 4, the accused was arrested at his home during the execution of a search warrant.  The accused’s right to consult counsel in private would have been compromised had the police attempted to facilitate contact at the house while a search of the house was underway. In such circumstances it was not a breach of s. 10(b) of the Charter for the police to transport the accused to the police station before implementing his contact with counsel.        R. v. Pileggi, 2021 ONCA 4at paras 75-78. Stuart O’Connell (Barrister/Solicitor)

By |February 3rd, 2021|Categories: O'Connell Law Blog|0 Comments