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Monthly Archives: March 2016

Abduction – Learn the facts about this Criminal Charge

What You Need to Know About Abduction. Earlier this month an Amber Alert was issued in relation to a car theft. A Toronto man left his car running at the entrance of a flea market with the keys in the ignition. He also left his three-month-old son in the car. An opportunistic thief took the vehicle with the baby inside. The child’s father observed the incident and tried to chase after the car on foot, but was too late. Fortunately, the car was recovered four hours later with the child safe inside. No charges have been laid against the boy’s father and the suspect involved with the theft remains at large.

abductionWhat is an Amber Alert?

An Amber Alert is a province-wide notice system that operates as a joint effort between media outlets and the Ontario Provincial Police. It is used to alert the public of a child abduction, and is named in memory of Amber Hagerman, a Texas girl who was abducted and murdered by a stranger.

What does the Criminal Code say about abduction?

The Criminal Code has extensive sections on different types of abductions. Needless to say, kidnapping and related crimes are very serious in nature. Section 279 states that kidnapping an individual, that is, holding them against their will, can result in a sentence of life imprisonment. Interestingly, abduction of a child under 14 years of age by someone other than the parents, with the intent of depriving the parents of access to the child, carries a maximum punishment of only 10 years in prison. One of the main differences between kidnapping and abduction is that kidnapping may involve the kidnapper gaining a profit from their act, while abductors do not generally act with a view to a profit.



OPP Amber Alert Program


What is a Citizens Arrest?

Citizens Arrest in the News

A citizens arrest occurred  last week an Toronto man was arrested following a struggle with a civilian who held him until police arrived at the scene. The man was armed and approaching a vehicle, and citizen detained him while others called 911. This is not the first time a citizen’s arrest in the GTA has made the news. In 2009, a grocer in Toronto’s Chinatown faced charges after chasing a frequent shoplifter, tying him up, and throwing him in the back of a delivery van. This case made headlines as it explored what constituted a reasonable amount force in an arrest between civilians. The grocer saw an outpouring of support from other Chinatown business owners, who noted that drastic action needed to be taken in the face of frequent theft and slow response times from the local police. In 2014, the grocer was acquitted of all charges.

What is a citizens arrest?

Generally when an individual is arrested, the arresting party is a law enforcement professional. However, it is possible for any civilian citizen to arrest any other civilian citizen if certain conditions are met, as specified in the Citizens Arrest and Self-defence Act.

A citizens arrest occurs when a non-police individual lawfully detains another individual while waiting for the police to arrive and address an alleged criminal act. First and foremost, it is important to note that because arrests can be violent, or at the very least, unpredictable, citizens arrests are discouraged. In order to arrest another citizen, the arresting party must either witness a crime in progress, or witness a suspect escaping from the scene of a crime and being pursued by individuals who have lawful authority to arrest. The arrest must happen within a reasonable amount of time. If the alleged offence involved property, the arresting party must be the owner of the property, in lawful possession of the property, or have lawful use of the property.

citizens arrestBlurring the Line Between Legal and Illegal

Recent changes to the Citizen’s Arrest and Self-defence Act  state that civilians can be arrested by other civilians within a reasonable amount of time of the alleged offence. The Act does not specify a definition of “reasonable”, leaving that up to the deciding judge. This means that the definition is subjective and can vary from case to case. It has also led to concerns about the Act being used to detain citizens based on unfair conditions imposed under the guise of the arresting party believing the offence occurred within a “reasonable” amount of time.

In addition, a citizen’s arrest can quickly turn from a lawful to unlawful if the arrested individual is not immediately delivered into police custody.





Hamilton homicide suspect Gary White surrenders to police

When the police issue a warrant for a persons arrest an experienced criminal lawyer is often called by the subject of the warrant to negotiate a surrender.  A criminal defence lawyer has the ability to ensure that a peaceful surrender can occur.

White is accused of shooting and killing his cousin Joseph Colson at a Jackson Street West apartment Friday

Source: Hamilton homicide suspect Gary White surrenders to police

Restorative Justice – Learn more.

Restorative Justice vs. Traditional Approaches

Restorative Justice is becoming more common place a tool for courts.  When someone commits a criminal offence, they may face criminal charges which could result in a fine, a custodial sentence, a restrictive probation order, or other correctional methods utilized by our justice system. However, are these methods effective ways of curbing crime? Of rehabilitating offenders? Of allowing victims and communities an opportunity to heal from the wrongdoings committed upon them? Proponents of restorative – justice would suggest that there are other methods which better address criminal behaviour.

A custodial term, for example, removes the offender from their community as a punishment for their deeds. But it also removes the offender from their own support system, and rehabilitative options are in custody vary greatly from institution to institution. Furthermore, other than appearing as a witness or providing a victim impact statement, there are limited methods for victims to become involved in the justice process.

Restorative justice is a method by which wrongdoings are addressed by alternative measures. Supporters of this method note that it allows accused individuals the opportunities to right the wrongs they have committed, and makes victims active participants in the justice system. Some restorative justice methods include counselling, First Nations sentencing circles, and community service programs.

The Limits of Restorative Justice

Restorative – justice is not a meant to be a substitute for traditional justice methods, rather a parallel alternative system. This is because restorative – justice is not appropriate for every case. Some situations where restorative justice is not a viable option include:

  • When the accused is charged with an indictable offence (facing over 2 years in jail);
  • When the victim cannot be determined;
  • When the Crown does not consent to restorative justice methods being used;
  • When the accused’s legal rights are at risk; and
  • When there is no restorative justice system in place in the community.




Restorative Justice

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