The Power of a Guilty Plea

Posted on 2 April 2019
The Power of a Guilty Plea

Remember when you were a kid, and your mom asked who ate the last slice of cake and you tried to blame your baby sister? Remember when she gave you that last chance to spill the beans, and you came clean about your wrong-doing, avoiding the loss of video game privileges as a result?

The criminal justice system can work the same way. If you're guilty of the crime you're accused of, and admit so at the beginning of the trial, then the judge may be more lenient in their sentencing, depending on the severity of your crime and apparent contrition.

While any plea should be discussed with your legal counsel, here are some common questions about the guilty plea, including "what happens after pleading guilty" and "does pleading guilty reduce your sentence."


What Happens After Pleading Guilty

When you plead guilty, the trial ends and you proceed into sentencing. It's usually best to enter your guilty plea to the court at the outset of the trial during the arraignment, but there are four questions the judge must ask you before accepting your plea, called the plea inquiry.

These questions are:

  1. Are you pleading guilty voluntarily?
  2. Do you understand that by pleading guilty, you are admitting to facts that make up a criminal offence?
  3. Do you understand the consequences of a guilty plea, including that you are giving up your right to have a trial by pleading guilty?
  4. Do you understand that the judge does not have to follow the sentence that your lawyer and/or the Crown are recommending?

If you answer yes to all these questions and the judge accepts your answers, then you may move on to sentencing.


How Long Between Guilty Plea and Sentencing?

After a guilty plea, the trial effectively ends and your sentencing may take place immediately afterwards or be sentenced for a later date. If the judge deems that you are a danger to the community, then you will be put into holding until your sentencing.


Does Pleading Guilty Reduce Your Sentence?

While a guilty plea often results in a reduced sentence, it is not necessarily a guarantee. Many factors go into a judge's decision, including the severity of your offences, the victim impact statement, and your state of contrition.

If the judge feels you have shown remorse for your actions, as evidenced by the guilty plea, then they may very well decline to give you the maximum sentence.

Additionally, the crown and your counsel can submit a joint statement, in which both sides submit an agreed-upon sentence, but this is ultimately a suggestion. The judge is allowed to sentence you to whatever they feel appropriate.


 


 

Learn more about the guilty plea and questions like "how long between guilty plea and sentencing" from Ontario's "Topp" criminal defence lawyer! Contact Daniel K. Topp today.

 

Are you eligible for a marijuana possession pardon?

Posted by Daniel K. Topp on 21 February 2019
Are you eligible for a marijuana possession pardon?

If you received a marijuana possession charge before October 17, 2018, you faced 6 months in jail for up to 30 grams of product prior to other related offences including trafficking, intent to traffic or production.

In 2016, approximately 55,000 Canadians were charged with possession of cannabis. So, what happens to them now that the substance has been decriminalized and legalized?

The government is pledging to waive both the standard waiting period and fee for a pardon with no clear timeline. Though this won't completely remove the crime from a person's criminal record, it does separate it from other criminal records. Because there is no clear timeline, and with standard record suspension processing times of 6-12 months, it's too early to say what the future holds for those convicted of possession charges.

You can, however, start the process with these 10 steps & documents required for a record suspension application:


1. Your Criminal Record

This step requires electronic fingerprint submission through a police service of a company with an electronic submission device. Once complete, you will receive your Criminal Record.


2. Your Court Information

Proof of fine payments, restitution, convictions and methods of trial for each conviction are required for this step.


3. Military Conduct Sheet

This step is only necessary for either former or current members of the Canadian armed forces. You will need a signed and dated copy of your conduct sheet.


4. Local Police Record Checks

These documents are only valid for 6 months after being issued, so make sure to keep this in mind. You'll need police record checks for the city/town you currently live in, as well as previous cities/towns of residence where you lived for more than 3 months in the last 5 years.


5. Proof of Citizenship or Immigration

Of course, you'll need proof that you are a Canadian citizen or appropriate immigration documents. These documents must be valid and current.


6. Photocopy of Identity Proof

You will require a government-issued proof of ID that includes your name, signature and date of birth. When providing this document, make sure it's a clear photocopy not an original.


7. Schedule 1 Exception Form (if convicted of a Schedule 1 offence)

If you have been convicted for a Schedule 1 offence, you will need to complete and submit the Exception Form. Schedule 1 includes sexual offences involving a child, and are not necessary for marijuana possession.


8. Record Suspension Application Form

Fill out the Record Suspension Application Form legibly using blue or black ink and only block letters. Additional pages are permitted should you need more space. This form is only valid for 6 months.


9. Measurable Benefits / Sustained Rehabilitation Form

Download this form and complete all sections. The purpose of this form is to show how a pardon will benefit your rehabilitation into society.


10. Pay Record Suspension Application Processing Fee

At this step or stage, you'll want to make sure you have all the required forms outlined above, as well as the processing fee which is currently $631.

A pardon may help get your life back on track; however, it does not equate to expungement or free travel into countries like the United States.


If you have any questions or need assistance with the documents for a marijuana record suspension application, contact the law offices of Daniel Topp today. We'll be glad to help get you back on track and keep your record clean.

 

Penalties of Driving While High

Posted by Daniel K. Topp on 23 January 2019
Penalties of Driving While High

 

RIDE stops this year will be extra diligent due to the recent legalization of marijuana in Canada. Driving while high in Ontario and across Canada is a very serious offence, and a conviction could change your life forever.

That's why you need be aware of the laws around driving while high in your region, to ensure that you aren't the first Canadian to spend Christmas in the joint for smoking a joint behind the wheel.


Drug Impaired Driving in Canada: Rules and Restrictions

Regulations around drug-impaired driving in Canada vary between provinces, but driving while high in Ontario is absolutely prohibited. If a roadside drug test finds that you have been impaired by cannabis use, you could face a battery of penalties ranging from an immediate license suspension to fines in the thousands of dollars, to jail time.

In particular, Ontario has a zero tolerance policy in place for commercial drivers, young drivers, and those without fully graduated licensing. So, if you have a G1 or G2, don't even go near marijuana before driving!


Can You Drive High with a Medical Card in Canada?

If you are an authorized user of medical cannabis, you won't be held subject to Ontario's zero tolerance policy for young/novice/commercial drivers, however, you can still get booked if the presiding police officer deems that cannabis use has impaired your driving ability.

So, if you're wondering, "can you drive high with a medical card in Canada?" the answer is a resounding "No!"


Mandatory Sentences for Driving While High

If you're caught driving while high, you will be subject to the official penalties for impaired driving, which get more severe if you offend multiple times within a 5-year period. They are as follows:

First offence

  • 3-day license suspension. This cannot be appealed.
  • $250 penalty (begins January 2019)

Second offence within 5 years

  • 7-day license suspension (3-day suspension for commercial drivers). This cannot be appealed.
  • $350 penalty (begins January 2019)
  • You must attend a mandatory education program 9for a second occurrence within 10 years)

Third and subsequent offences within 5 years

  • 30-day license suspension (3-day suspension for commercial drivers). This cannot be appealed.
  • $450 penalty (begins January 2019)
  • You must attend a mandatory treatment program (for third and subsequent offence within 10 years)
  • You will need to undergo a mandatory medical evaluation to determine whether you meet the requirements for driving in Ontario (for fourth and subsequent offence within 10 years).

In addition to the penalties above, you will also face a $198 license reinstatement fee each time your license is suspended. You may also be charged under the Highway Traffic Act and if convicted, you will face an additional suspension and fine.

Penalties for a BAC Over the Legal Limit, Refuse Testing or Impairment

If you refuse to take a drug or alcohol test, register a BAC over 0.08, or if a drug recognition evaluator determines that you are impaired, you will face:

  • 90-day licence suspension
  • 7-day vehicle impoundment
  • $550 penalty (begins January 2019)
  • $198 licence reinstatement fee
  • You must attend mandatory education or treatment program (for second and subsequent occurrences within 10 years)
  • You will be required to use an ignition interlock device for at least 6 months (for third and subsequent occurrences within 10 years)

 

Were you caught driving while high? Fight a drug-impaired driving charge in Canada with the help of Daniel K. Topp. Contact us today.

 

Driving High: Marijuana Legalization and Vehicle Operation

Posted by Daniel K. Topp on 19 December 2018
Driving High: Marijuana Legalization and Vehicle Operation

Elements of Canada's Cannabis Act have been under continuous scrutiny since the drug's legalization in October. While there are still a few kinks to be worked out in regards to the distribution, accessibility, and purchase, there are things set in stone regarding road safety and driving.

Here's what you need to know about marijuana and driving laws in Ontario:


Can I drive under the influence of cannabis?

Driving high is against the law in Ontario. You may face license suspensions, fines, criminal charges and even jail time if you are found to be driving under the influence of drugs.


How much marijuana can I consume and drive?

Though impairment may vary from person to person based on consumption method, quantity, and varying THC levels in the product, there are currently no guidelines on acceptable consumption limits for Ontario drivers. Any amount over 2 mg/ml may face criminal charges and/or fines.

Be advised that as per the Canadian government, until the science improves, Canada takes a zero-tolerance approach to drug impaired driving.


Does cannabis affect my driving abilities?

Cannabis in any quantity has the potential to affect your:

  • Motor Skills
  • Reaction Time
  • Decision Making
  • Concentration and Memory

Each of the above in any combination or singularly can impact your driving and reaction time in case of unexpected events.


How is cannabis tested for and enforced on the roads?

Canada is continuing to invest in SFST (standardized field sobriety test) and DRE (drug recognition expert) training to increase safety on our roads. These specialists in drug and alcohol impairment are trained to use a variety of methods to recognize the state of a driver including breathalysers, toxicological exams and interviews.  For a full breakdown of road enforcement, visit the RCMP website.


What is Bill C-46?

Bill C-46 is a two-part bill that's an amendment to the Criminal Code dealing with offences and procedures relating to drug- and alcohol-impaired driving. This bill provides police officers enhanced powers to determine field sobriety, allowing them to demand a breath sample from any driver that is lawfully stopped.


Bill C-46 Part I : THC Concentration Limits

Part I of Bill C-46 introduced three new offences related to drug-impaired motorists based on the concentration of THC in the bloodstream measured in nanograms per mililitre (ng/ml).

  • Low-Level THC (2ng/ml - <5ng/ml) will face a $1,000 fine
  • Higher-Level THC (>5ng/ml) will face a fine of $1,000 to 120 days in jail
  • Combined effects of THC and alcohol consumption (50 mg/100ml + >2.5ng/ml) will face a fine of $1,000 to 120 days in jail

Individual provinces may add additional penalties on top of the above.


 



Have you been charged with driving high? Protect your rights and reputation by contacting Topp Law for consultation, and to help you through the complicated process.

 

 

 

What You Need to Know About Marijuana Legalization in Canada

Posted by Daniel K. Topp on 26 November 2018
What You Need to Know About Marijuana Legalization in Canada

Marijuana legalization in Canada has brought with it a slew of social and legal changes the courts and law professionals are still navigating through. However, there are some key points you need to be aware of before you can enjoy a good puff of that sweet, sweet Hindu Kush.


Where You Can Buy Weed in Canada

While you can now buy weed in Canada legally, specific distribution channels and restrictions vary on a province-by-province basis. While some will allow you to buy weed in Canada from private stores and online sites, others will restrict sale to government-run stores and sites. In Ontario, the only way to buy weed legally is from the Ontario Cannabis Store website.

To learn about weed vendors and restrictions in your jurisdiction, please click here.


You Can Have 4 Plants per Household in Canada

While marijuana is available in legal dispensaries or online sites across the country, Canadians can also grow their own marijuana plants for personal use. People are allowed 4 plants per household in Canada; however, Quebec and Manitoba may introduce provincial legislation to prevent residences from growing their own marijuana plants, even for recreational use.

Additionally, some municipalities across the country are restricting public weed smoking, so be aware of where you light up!


Can You Drive High with a Medical Card in Canada?

Under no circumstances are you allowed to drive while under the influence of marijuana in Canada. Driving while high is an indictable offense that can yield hundreds of dollars in fines and up to 10 years in prison.

Roadside drug testing in Ontario involves the administration of a saliva test that analyzes the amount of THC in the driver's system. If you have 1-5 nanograms of THC in your blood, you could face a fine up to $1,000, as well as suspension of driving privileges.

However, if roadside drug testing in Ontario finds more than five nanograms, you could be convicted and sentenced to up to 10 years in prison, if you don't have a dependable defence attorney on your side. So, no, you can't drive high with a medical card in Canada.


Were you caught driving while high? Avoid fines and potential prison time with the help of Windsor's Topp lawyer! Contact Daniel K. Topp today at 519-254-0500.

 
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