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Vancouver Criminal Law Blog
Acumen Law Corporation > Blog (Page 2)

Lawyers acting in the interest of justice

Homeless in tent city

Those unfamiliar with the work of lawyers sometimes believe that only people who have lots of money can afford to hire lawyers. This cannot be further from the truth. At Acumen Law we believe in keeping costs low for our clients while maximizing the amount we achieve. We are lawyers because we believe in the interest of justice. We believe that everyone who finds themselves face-to-face with the judicial system should have their best interests represented. This means that we sometimes take on pro-bono cases if it's in the interest of justice and for a larger cause. Recently, Acumen lawyer Stephanie Skinner...

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Driving prohibitions incoming from 2017 traffic enforcement blitzes

Notice of Intent to Prohibit

We’ve recently received word that many driving prohibitions are now being issued as a result of high-intensity traffic enforcement blitzes by police earlier this year. Police have been busy. Just in Burnaby alone, an enforcement blitz in March resulted in 764 distracted-driving tickets. That same month, on a single day, Victoria police conducted a blitz that resulted in “at least 100 tickets” for cellphone related offences. And over the May long weekend, a BC wide enforcement blitz was conducted. It traditionally results in more than 1,000 speeding tickets issued over a few days. Many drivers caught at the time paid these...

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When can police arrest me for being drunk in public?

Drunk in public

It’s the early hours of Saturday morning in downtown Vancouver. Even the stragglers are starting to head home after a night of drinking. They pour out of bars and nightclubs in a tapering trickle, like the last drops in a good bottle of scotch. Some hail taxis, hop on a bus or head down the steps into a SkyTrain station. Others walk home. Here’s where the issue begins. Many of those heading home will be in varying states of inebriation. Perhaps enough so to be considered drunk in public, or intoxicated in a public place, as it’s called by the...

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The many problems of roadside drug screening

roadside drug screening

Earlier this year, the Federal Government invited 24 police officers across Canada to test a pair of devices that claim to screen drug-impaired drivers. The roadside drug screening evaluations were conducted between December 18, 2016 and March 6, 2017 and included several officers from the Vancouver Police Department. Two devices were selected for the pilot test: the Securetec DrugRead and the Alere DDS-2. Both of these devices had been previously tested for reliability with positive results. As a result, Public Safety Canada determined both the devices were reliable and set about using them on the road.[pullquote]Positive readings were more likely to...

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IRP adjudicator neglected to consider important evidence

Failure to consider important evidence?

This week we had another significant decision from the BC Supreme Court concerning how Immediate Roadside Prohibition adjudicators are to assess evidence. In this case, the court determined an IRP adjudicator neglected to consider important evidence in rendering her decision.  The evidence that the adjudicator failed to address in her reasons was a significant piece of evidence that called into question a police officer’s credibility. The adjudicator has been ordered to conduct another review. The case was appealed to BC Supreme Court by Kyla Lee. It involved a client who applied for a review after receiving a 90-day Immediate Roadside Prohibition....

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Unprepared IRP adjudicators could hurt drivers

Unprepared IRP adjudicators

A recent case argued in the BC Supreme Court by our own Kyla Lee affirms what we have said all along: Immediate Roadside Prohibition adjudicators may not be sufficiently prepared in the areas of law they preside over. In this case, the court identified an adjudicator's lack of understanding of the law that could have resulting in serious consequences to our client. In our view, the adjudicator’s understanding of the law was sufficiently flawed that the judge directed the adjudicator to review case law on the issue. Who or what is an IRP adjudicator? An IRP adjudicator is a person delegated by the Superintendent of...

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The Civil Resolution Tribunal, a.k.a. Small Petty Claims Court

The backroom where the action happens at the CRT

Starting on June 1, 2017, BC’s Civil Resolution Tribunal will begin to hear small claims disputes under $5,000. The Civil Resolution Tribunal has been the subject of a lot of ridicule in our office because it's years past its original launch date, we hear it's well over budget, its merely duplicating what is basically already covered by small claims court and finally and most importantly because it lacks the fact-finding methods of a real court. Being a tribunal, we worry that independence of the tribunal will be a problem as we've seen with the OSMV.  It may also encourage nuisance...

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Bad laws written by bad governments

Bad government omits lawyers from the discussion of new laws

This week, several MPs tweeted about their participation in roundtable discussions with Jody Wilson-Raybould and other “stakeholders” in criminal justice reform. But best we can tell defence counsel were not invited to have a seat at any of those roundtables. Despite the fact that we come up with sensible and workable solutions to plenty of criminal justice problems, and despite the fact that defence counsel are clearly stakeholders in the system of criminal justice, the Government never wants to hear our voices, thoughts, or ideas.[pullquote]We would have fewer constitutional challenges, better and stronger laws, and a more effective and efficient court system...

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High standards for proving drug impaired driving prohibitions

Drivin high?

Late last week we had a significant successful decision in BC Supreme Court for a client who was pulled over by Vancouver police for “slow driving,” before being given a 24-hour prohibition for allegedly driving while affected by drugs. In this case, the officer never found any drugs on our client or among his possessions. Instead, the Vancouver police relied on the smell of “fresh marihuana,” the presence of marijuana grinders, and a bottle of eye drops to make their case. It was not lost on the court that the officer had “no explanation” as to why our client was pulled...

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Integrity of the IRP system at stake

What's in the papers?

The past week marks another step in our ongoing quest to expose the true functioning of the IRP scheme and to protect the integrity of our justice system. Back in November 2015, Kyla received a package back from the government on a Freedom of Information request containing information that questioned the integrity of BC’s IRP system. Inside the package were pages of confidential material the Government didn’t want us to see (known as the Victoria Papers). The material included a conversation where a lawyer working for the Ministry of Justice appeared to give orders to an IRP adjudicator describing how she...

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