** Please be advised that the following definitions and information are not comprehensive legal definitions.   Rather, they are designed to provide a brief, general, and basic description / understanding of some of the most common criminal charges.   As with all criminal charges, the defenses available at law will vary depending on the individual circumstances of each case.   As such, the content of this website is not legal advice.   Do not use or otherwise rely on, any of the following content without first seeking proper legal advice.**

The criminal law charge of drunk driving involves operating a motor vehicle, while having the care or control over that vehicle, while one’s ability to operate that vehicle is impaired by alcohol, or a drug.   If subsequently taken to a police detachment, a qualified technician will take samples of the Accused’s breath into a breathalyzer machine known as the BAC Datamaster C (in order to determine the level of milligrams of alcohol, per 100 milliliters of blood).   The charge of over .08 is usually added if the Accused’s breath sample registers over the legal allowable limit of .08.   A charge of refusal will result if the Accused refuses to either provide a sample of their breath at roadside (into an Approved Screening Device), or refuses to provide a sample of their breath at the police detachment into the breathalyzer machine.

Charges of drunk driving / impaired driving / over .08 / DUI / DWI / and refusal are extremely technical and require police officers and breath technicians to obey strict rules and procedures, such that even if the police conduct the investigation properly, the roadside screening device and/or the breath machine can be wrong, and there are a variety of ways to challenge their accuracy, as well as one’s refusal.   Police officers are also required to satisfy certain Charter obligations to an Accused.   Because of this, there are many defenses available to challenge the evidence – often resulting in exclusion of the breath certificate.

This criminal law charge relates to an Accused being in possession of illegal substances such as marijuana, cocaine, crystal meth, or ecstasy.   In order to prove possession, the Crown must prove that the Accused had both knowledge and control over the substance.   The charge of trafficking results if the Accused does any of the following:   sells, administers, gives, transfers, transports, sends or delivers the controlled substance in question.

PRODUCTION (grow op):
This criminal law charge involves the production of any drug listed in Schedule I – IV of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.   These offences most often relate to what is commonly referred to as a meth lab or marijuana “grow op”.

Most production offences involving a “meth lab” or “grow op” for instance, usually involve the issuance of a search warrant (the legal basis upon which the Police enter one’s residence, etc.).   Obtaining and executing these warrants is a technical process and errors by police can result in successful challenges – leading to the exclusion of evidence.

This definition is most often related to drug offences.   When police investigate and monies and/or property are found in the vicinity of drugs (such as in a residence), or used to transport drugs (such as in a car), that money and/or property is usually seized by police.   The police will seek to hold these items as part of their investigation until such time as it can be determined whether they are related to the offence(s) being charged, and/or are needed for trial, and/or preliminary hearing.   Generally speaking, the police will try to hold the money and/or property for 90 days.   At the conclusion of that time, the police and/or the Crown must apply to hold it for a longer period.   These efforts by Police and/or Crown can be challenged, and when the challenge is successful, the money and/or property are returned.

CRIMES OF VIOLENCE (assault – all types):
In its barest form, a criminal law charge of assault can be construed as an unwanted touching; in other words, touching without consent.  The two most common defences to the charge of assault are, consent and self-defence.   Self-defence is extremely technical and is often successfully invoked in not only simple assaults, but also assault with a weapon, assault causing bodily harm, aggravated assault, and murder.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE / DOMESTIC ASSAULT (seeking a Stay of Proceedings or a 810 Peace Bond):
Often referred to as a “spousal assault”, there is no specific Criminal Code provision dealing with this criminal law charge.   Rather, one is charged with the offence of assault, assault causing bodily harm (or whatever the level of assault that allegedly occurred).   These matters often involve a “he said / she said” disagreement regarding the facts.   In many of these cases, an experienced criminal lawyer such as Mr. Israels is able to negotiate with the Prosecutor to either drop the assault charge altogether, or alternatively, may negotiate Alternative Measures (“diverting” the Client from the Court system altogether), or the imposition of a type of restraining order, called a “recognizance” (or 810 peace bond) – any of these three resolutions results in the Client avoiding a criminal record.

In essence, the criminal law charge of sexual assault involves an unwanted touching of a sexual nature.   The most common defences to such a charge are: denial of the incident, consent, and/or honest but mistaken belief to the alleged sexual act.  These defences are technical in nature and often require delicate but nevertheless strong and effective handling of complainant(s), some of whom can be young or otherwise vulnerable.  Mr. Israels has experience in dealing with both children and adult complainants.

This criminal charge can be laid by the Crown if any of the following acts are carried out by an Accused:   repeatedly following a person from place to place; repeatedly communicating with a person (directly or indirectly); watching the home or place of employment where a person resides, works, or happens to be; or engaging in threatening conduct directed at the other person, or any member of his/her family.   The Accused must be shown to know that the person is being harassed, or was reckless as to whether the person is being harassed.   The person must reasonably, in all the circumstances, be caused to fear for his/her safety, or the safety of anyone known to him/her.   This offence is often challenging for the Crown to prove, and there are a variety of defences available – the goal being to avoid a criminal record.

A criminal law charge of threatening involves a threat (verbal or otherwise), to cause death or bodily harm to any person; to burn, destroy or damage real or personal property; or to kill, poison, or injure an animal or bird that is the property of any person.

The two most common defences are a denial of the threat, and a denial of any intention to menace, intimidate or cause fear to the recipient.

This criminal law charge occurs when an Accused kidnaps a person with intent to cause the person to be confined or imprisoned against the person’s will; to cause the person to be unlawfully sent or transported out of Canada against the person’s will; or to hold the person for ransom or to service against the person’s will.   Forcible confinement charges involve an Accused person who, without lawful authority, confines, imprisons, or forcibly seizes another person.

These are extremely serious charges and are usually hard fought cases as the Crown will often seek a lengthy sentence.   Defences to such charges are varied, and having skilled and experienced counsel is vital.

An Accused commits the criminal law charge of extortion when he intends to obtain anything (by threats, accusations, menaces or violence), induces or attempts to induce any person (whether or not he is the person threatened, accused or menaced or to whom violence is shown), to do anything, or cause anything to be done.

Note: if a firearm is used in the commission of this offence, there is a minimum punishment of 4 years.

Although there is no actual criminal law charge of “home invasion”, this provision of the Criminal Code (s.348.1), may arise depending upon the circumstances of the criminal charges being faced by an Accused.   That being said, if a person is convicted of forcible confinement, robbery, extortion or break and enter in relation to a residence, the Court considers as an aggravating circumstance the fact that the residence was occupied at the time of the commission of the offence, and that the Accused knew that, or was reckless as to whether the home was occupied; and used violence, or threats of violence, to a person or property.   Defenses to such a charge are varied, and having skilled and experienced counsel is vital.

These criminal law offences relate to both weapons (such as brass knuckles or illegal knives – such as a switchblade), and firearms / guns.   If a loaded firearm is used during the commission of an offence, a minimum period of custody will follow should one be convicted.   Although there are defenses to such offences, one must be diligent to ensure that he is in possession of, where appropriate, the proper license(s) that correspond(s) to any weapon or firearm.

This type of criminal law offence involves an Accused who defrauds any person, or the public, of any property, money, valuable security or service.   One is charged with committing the offence of fraud as either being “under $5000” or “over $5000”.    In order to prove a charge of fraud, the Crown must demonstrate that the Accused had subjective knowledge of the prohibited act, and, that performance of that act could have as a consequence, the deprivation of another.   Identity theft relates to the fraudulent use of another’s identity for fraudulent purpose(s).   Such offences can be difficult for the Crown to prove and require defense counsel who have dealt with such files, and are both skilled and knowledgeable.

These charges generally involve theft, possession of stolen property, mischief, break and enter, and robbery.

Theft – taking with intent anything (animate or inanimate), which is not one’s own – this can be temporarily or absolutely.  

Possession of Stolen Property – being in possession of any property or thing (having the knowledge and control over the item in question), which an Accused does not have the permission of the owner.  

Mischief – occurs when an Accused destroys or damages property; renders property useless or inoperative; interferes with the lawful use, enjoyment, or operation of property; or interferes with any person in the lawful use, enjoyment, or operation of property.  

Break & Enter – takes effect when an Accused breaks and enters into a place and attempts, or does commit, an indictable offence therein.   Note:   if the person breaks into a residence (as opposed to a commercial facility), there is a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.  

Robbery – this offence involves theft (actual or attempted), with violence.   Note: if a firearm is used in the commission of this offence, the Accused faces a minimum punishment of 4 years.

This criminal law charge involves driving a vehicle when that person has been prohibited from doing so, either by the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles, or the Court.   In order to prove this offence, the Crown must prove that the person charged knew of the prohibition; that the prohibition was in effect the entire day of the offence date; and that the person prohibited, was driving.   Such offences are quite technical to prove and afford many defenses.

This offence is charged under the Motor Vehicle Act (s.144). It generally relates to one’s manner of driving under the circumstances as they existed at the time of the offence.   It is a strict liability offence. The Crown need only prove that the Accused committed the prohibited act; the Accused must then demonstrate that the act / manner of driving was done without negligence or fault on his part.   These cases can also be technical in nature and also provide many defenses depending on the driver’s subjective knowledge and action(s) at the relevant time.

This criminal law offence can be described as driving in a manner that is considered to be a marked departure from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the Accused’s situation.    Similarly to the above, defenses relate to one’s subjective knowledge and action(s) at the time.