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Police Vehicle Stop. What you need to know.

police vehicle stop

What to do/what not during a police vehicle stop.

  • police vehicle stop occur thousands of times daily.
  • first things first, the law in Ontario sees driving as a privilege, not a right. So while you are protected by the charter, there are certain obligations that you have during a police vehicle stop.
  • if a police officer has signalled for you to stop, you must immediately come to a safe stop
  • you could face fines or jail time for failing to stop when requested
  • The Highway Traffic Act requires you to provide the officer with three items during a police vehicle stop:
    • your driver’s license
    • proof of insurance
    • vehicle registration
  • Failure to provide these items can result in a fine
  • when you are pulled over, you should stay in the car, turn on the interior lights, roll down the window and place your hands on the steering wheel
  • when the officer comes to the window, provide them with your documents when they request them
  • In Ontario, your passengers are under no obligation to provide identification or to answer questions during a police vehicle stop.
  • The police can order to step out of your car if:
    • they suspect you are impaired and they are administering a roadside breath or sobriety test
    • they’re concerned for their safety (must be reasonable belief)
  • The police may ask to search your car
  • You do not have to give them consent – even if it sounds like an order
  • If you have been pulled over and they want to search your car, you have the right to call a lawyer
  • note that section 8 of the charter applies to the search of the vehicle so the police must have reasonable grounds for the search
  • act respectfully and provide the necessary documentation
  • sometimes, given the context, it’s better to comply with the officer’s requests than to argue with them

– it’s always your right to ask why you have been stopped and to contact a lawyer before answering any questions or consenting to a search

Victim Surcharge. What you need to know.

A victim surcharge is an additional – financial – penalty that convicted individuals face upon sentencing. The money collected helps to fund programs for victims of crime. If there’s a fine, the victim surcharge is an additional 30% of that fine. If there isn’t a fine, convicted individuals have to pay $100 for summary offences and $200 for indictable offences.

Judges find ways to get around Victim Surcharge

In October of 2013, the federal government made victim surcharges mandatory. In the years since then, several judges came up with creative ways to get around imposing the surcharge or have ignored it all together. Many judges object to imposing fines on impoverished offenders. For example, in 2014, an Ontario Court of Justice judge, David Paciocco, found that a $900 fine was grossly disproportionate that it would outrage the standards of decency. The offender was impoverished, Inuit, and had addiction issues. Justice Paciocco found that fining the offender $900 was cruel and unusual punishment.

Several other judges have followed Justice Paciocco’s example but recent appeals decision have upheld the victim surcharges as constitutional. This past September, Ontario Superior Court Justice Laurie Lacelle overturned an Ontario Court of Justice decision that found that the surcharge was unconstitutional. Justice Lacelle found that fining the offender $700 was not cruel and unusual under the Charter, even though the offender makes $136/month.

Although there are many judges and lawyers criticizing victim surcharges, at this point, they remain mandatory. That means that, in addition to potential jail time and a criminal record, convicted individuals can face steep victim surcharges depending on the number of offences. This is particularly troubling for low-income offenders.

The risk of an additional financial penalty on sentencing highlights the importance of having a lawyer to be on your side in court. Smordin Law accepts Legal Aid certificates and the lawyers have experience and sensitivity representing low-income offenders.

victim surcharge



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


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