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Monthly Archives: August 2015

Circumstances and Implications of Trying Youth as Adults

13-year old Wisconsin Girls to be Tried as Adults in Slender Man Stabbing


A Wisconsin judge has held that Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier, both 13 years old, will be tried as adults in the 2014 first-degree murder case that made international headlines last year. In Canada, similar to in the United States, a child can be tried as an adult in specific circumstances. Generally speaking, the child must be at least 14 years old at the time of the offence, the offence must be serious and attract a minimum of two years’ imprisonment for an adult; and the youth must have already been found guilty in youth court. Furthermore, if the young person has committed first- or second-degree murder before turning 14, the Attorney General may also petition for him or her to be tried in adult court.

Since 2010, there has been a push by the Conservative government for tougher treatment of youth who commit violent crimes. One rationale for this action is that young people should receive harsher sentences which are more proportionate to their offence, and that this can only be achieved in adult court. The expectation is that harsher punishment will result in lowered juvenile crime rates. However, there is little evidence to support the notion that youth are deterred from committing violent crimes because of the threat of receiving an adult sentence. Interestingly, however, there is evidence that these harsher punishments could actually result in higher rates of reoffending.

Trying youth as adults raises a number of important issues. First of all, the youth’s name is no longer protected by a publication ban, meaning that his or her act which would normally be treated as spilled milk, now becomes an indelible stain. The child’s notoriety will now follow him or her far into adulthood, quite possibly hindering efforts to reintegrate into society after being released. Another issue raised—and perhaps the most important—is that of the mental health implications of trying youth as adults. Both girls in the Slender Man case suffer from mental illness. Experts diagnosed Geyser with early onset schizophrenia, and Weier with a delusional disorder. The concern expressed by Geyser’s lawyer is that the girl’s condition would worsen in adult prison. His concerns are echoed by experts who fear that the situation of patients with mental illness in prison has reached a critical level.

Putting aside the suitability of adult sentences for children, the broader question in this case is what can and should be done for these girls in the way of their much-needed psychiatric treatment after they are sentenced. Secondly, how can we as a community prevent tragedies like this from happening again? Today’s youth are desperately susceptible to the perils of our modern technological era:  child predators, cyberbullying, the deluge of explicit content, exposure to graphic images, increased social isolation, increased anxiety and depression, and highly infections viral fanaticism such as that of the Slender Man case. More than ever, it behooves parents to monitor their children’s online lives, and to be aware of mental health issues that may affect their kids. Perhaps early intervention by parents and professionals could have prevented the tragedy of Wisconsin’s Slender Man stabbing—both for the victim, and her young attackers.

Sarah Newcombe

Student @ Law

Smordin Law

Source: http://www.thespec.com/news-story/5792509–slender-man-stabbing-13-year-old-wisconsin-girls-will-be-tried-as-adults/

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Police Misconduct – What you Need to Know

Police officers are mandated with the important task of protecting public safety, and are thus held to a higher standard of conduct than the general public. However, police are also human and on occasion make mistakes. They also sometimes break the very law they are called to enforce.

In recent years there has been a growing dialogue about police brutality and  police misconduct in North America. It is becoming increasingly apparent that much needs to be done in the way of police relations with the public, especially with marginalized and vulnerable individuals. Last year in Ontario, a small step forward was taken to this end. Following public outrage at the tragic police shooting of Sammy Yatim on a Toronto streetcar, an independent report was generated urging police to wear body cameras and to gain deeper access to information about people in crisis.

Police Misconduct.  Are you a victim?

So, what should you do if you find yourself the victim of police misconduct or brutality? The following are some general tips which are to be
taken as guidelines only, and are not exhaustive nor do they constitute legal advice.

Know Your Rights when Stopped by Police

When you are stopped by police for any reason, you have a right to remain silent. You also have a right to speak to a lawyer. Under section 10(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, a police officer must let you speak to a lawyer in private as soon possible. Instigating a fight with the ppolice misconductolice weakens your case for police misconduct.

If the police stop you and tell you to stay put or physically prevent you from leaving, you have a right to know why you’re being detained. You also have Constitutional protection under section 9 of the Charter against being detained without grounds. Any information police gather during an arbitrary detention is inadmissible in court.

If you are stopped by the police while driving

If you are pulled over by police when you are driving, unless the officer is making a legitimate inquiry into whet
her you are licensed or whether the car is registered and in good working order, the detention is arbitrary and you also have Constitutional protection.

Knowing your rights is an important first step you can take in protecting yourself from police misconduct.

Speak to an Experienced Criminal Defence Lawyer

Call Now

Source: http://www.thespec.com/news-story/5800391-what-happens-when-police-officers-face-criminal-charges-in-ontario-/

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