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The death penalty debate

Harper recently said in an interview that there are times when he believes the death penalty is appropriate. Despite this, he claims to have no designs to reopen the debate.

Regardless, his comments have effectively done just the opposite of his purported intent. Many people are now talking about the death penalty and when it may or may not be appropriate.

History of the Death Penalty

In Canada, the death penalty was always administered by hanging, except in instances of military penalties, in which case the convicted person was shot. At the beginning of the use of the death penalty in Canada, the punishment was available for a variety of offences, including treason, rape, pedophilia, bestiality, burglary, and homosexuality. 

Canadian bail provisions

Any time a child dies is a tragedy. There is simply no getting around that. A woman in Mississauga has been charged in connection with the death of a child at a daycare she ran. The Crown has decided to proceed by laying charges of second degree murder. On Friday morning, the woman was released on bail pending her trial.

A reading of the comments on the CBC article made it clear to me that the public is not pleased with the decision of Judge Durno in this matter. Their outrage is understandable, given the seriousness of the crime the accused is alleged to have committed. However, there exists a body of law in this country relating to the release of accused persons while they await trials.

As an experienced criminal lawyer in Vancouver, I know just how long it can take to get a trial date. In my experience, it takes at least a year from the date of the arraignment to get a trial date, though it is frequently longer. The arraignment is not typically the first court appearance, so the trial date is typically not set until well after the date of the alleged offence. Some of the complications that can cause these delays include a shortage of judges, a shortage of prosecutors, and difficulty scheduling police witnesses.

Police takedown in Abbotsford finally investigated

Why has this taken so long? In October of 2009, a video surfaced on YouTube that depicted Abbotsford Police taking down suspects they believed were involved in a drug transaction. The clip depicts officers kicking a man in the head, as well as standing on his legs, despite the fact that the man was lying on the ground an appeared to be complying with the direction of the officers. Although an investigation was undertaken by the Abbotsford Police themselves, it was determined that no misconduct or excessive force was used. Now the BC Police Complaints Commissioner has ordered a public hearing in respect of...

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Provocation and murder

The Supreme Court of Canada recently released their decision in R. v. Tran, a case about a murder that occurred loosely in the context of a domestic assault. The case concerned the quasi-defence of provocation.

Provocation exists as a partial defence only to the charge of murder. Although raising and successfully establishing provocation at trial will not result in an acquittal, it can reduce a first- or second-degree murder conviction to one of manslaughter. A murder conviction carries with it the harshest sentence our criminal justice system can impose: life in prison.

The only substantive difference between a conviction for first-degree murder and second-degree murder is in sentencing. First-degree murder has a mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison with no possibility of parole for twenty five years. Second-degree murder has a mandatory minimum of life, with no possibility of parole for ten years. Manslaughter, however, has no minimum sentence. Thus, the importance of establishing provocation in some instances is quite clear.

Some facts about drinking and driving

By now, I’m sure you’ve heard of the changes to the law of drinking and driving in British Columbia. There has been a lot of controversy about the new laws, which will be a feature of discussion on this blog. In this post, I hope to outline a little bit about drinking and driving offences and their history in Canada.

What are the offences?

In British Columbia, the Motor Vehicle Act prevents anyone from operating a motor vehicle with an excess of 50mg of alcohol in 100mL of blood. Those who are caught with a blood alcohol level in excess of 0.05mg% will be served a 3, 7, or 30 day driving prohibition, dependent on their driving record. This prohibition is known as an Immediate Roadside Prohibition. Your vehicle will also be impounded, and you will be responsible for the towing and storage costs associated with this. You are also made to pay a fine and the cost of reinstating your license after your prohibition has ended.