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The Difference Between Civil and Criminal Law

The law is a complex beast; there’s a wide variety of different codes, procedures, and practices, as well as differences between provincial and federal laws. Each court will operate according to its own standards, each judge has their own way of ruling; it can be hard to parse out how each law functions. One simple way of understanding the law more deeply is to appreciate the distinction between civil and criminal law.

Criminal law deals with acts of intentional harm to individuals; it is governed federally by the Criminal Code. Criminal law is of interest because by intentionally or recklessly endangering one individual, the criminal has effectively endangered society; by showing disregard for the health, safety, and well‐being of others, the criminal has committed an offense against Canadians at large. This is demonstrable by extrapolating from the criminal’s actions; if all Canadians stole property, for example, property would cease to lose it’s meaning; if all Canadians drove drunk, our roadways would be unsustainably perilous, and we might stop driving altogether. Criminal offenses being deemed harmful to society, it is the figurehead of government, and therefore of Canadian society, who must prosecute; this is why criminal offenses are prosecuted by the Crown, Canada being a constitutional monarchy. Numerous offenses can be considered criminal, so long as they have a deleterious effect on social order; anything from vandalism to murder can be prosecuted.

Civil law, on the other hand, deals with disputes between private parties; misunderstandings that are not intentional, as well as acts of negligence. These are not deemed problematic for society at large, but rather as disputes between two potentially well‐meaning actors. Civil law is the domain of contract law; two parties might dispute exactly what their responsibilities are under a contract, or argue over breach of contract, and seek compensation for lost money or work. Negligence occurs when one fails to exercise a degree of caution that could be expected from a reasonable individual; someone slipping on ice walking up your sidewalk is a problem that could have been avoided, but that wasn’t an intentional harm. Family law, including divorce settlements and spousal support, also falls under the domain of civil law. These cases are brought forth by a plaintiff, who takes up the case against a defendant; the Crown is not involved, though government agencies could be defendants or plaintiffs.

The burden of proof for civil law and criminal law is different; civil cases work on a balance of probabilities, where if it is more likely the plaintiff should be awarded compensation, they will win the case. Criminal cases work on a much higher standard of proof; the jury or judge must be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt; they must be almost one hundred percent certain that the accused not only committed the crime but intended to commit the crime. The high barrier of proof for the criminal law makes it essential to have an attorney who can properly defend you. Impaired driving is considered reckless, and thus a criminal offense in Canada; an impaired driving defense lawyer is the best way to present a compelling case against the Crown to defend yourself against charges.

The Legalization of Cannabis: What You Need To Know

Cannabis will become legal to purchase and consume in Manitoba as of October 17, 2018. The framework for the legalization of cannabis is complex, and there are many things Manitobans should know to avoid getting in trouble with the law.

Cannabis can only be bought from retailers authorized by the Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority of Manitoba (LGCA). The retailers authorized by the LGCA are private entities who are overseen by the Authority. You must be at least 19 years old to purchase and consume cannabis, and any cannabis sales which occur outside the purview of the LGCA are illegal.

The rules governing the public consumption of cannabis will be linked to The Non‐Smokers Health Protection and Vapour Products Act; the consumption of cannabis will be forbidden on streets and sidewalks, in enclosed public areas, and on school and healthcare facility grounds. In short, you can only smoke cannabis on your private residence (including in your backyard).

Currently, retailers are not permitted to sell edible cannabis products; this effectively means that the sale and distribution of edibles is illegal. This said, the legislative framework does provide for individuals making cannabis edibles at home; the edibles can thus be shared and consumed, but not sold. Within a year, there may be legislative framework created to allow the sale of edibles.

The age restriction for cannabis was put in place to protect youth; this youth protection strategy extends to manufacturers, who are limited in their ability to advertise and distribute cannabis in a way that would appeal to those under 18 years of age. The federal framework creates a penalty of up to 14 years in jail for sharing or selling cannabis to a youth under the age of 18; Manitoban law extends that age to 19.

Manitobans can possess up to 30 grams of cannabis at one time in public. Though federal law permits growing up to four cannabis plants, Manitoba has legislated a ban on home cannabis growth. This could end up being a contentious legal issue, as federal criminal law supersedes provincial law; Manitoba has proposed non‐criminal fines as a deterrent to home growth.

Driving while under the influence of cannabis is illegal, and amendments to federal law through Bill C‐46 could have serious consequences for offenders. THC may remain detectable for longer than its effects, so a roadside test may not give an accurate depiction of the driver’s state of inebriety at the time of testing. The penalties for cannabis related driving offenses are steep, as they are for alcohol offenses.

The new cannabis laws are complicated, and tensions between provincial and federal legislation create a complex legal framework to navigate. Should you be charged with a cannabis related offense, before or after legalization, you need an effective criminal defense lawyer to strategize and present your case. Attorneys often offer free consultations, so it’s always advantageous to call and see how they can help you find your way through the legal waterways.

Always Hire A Lawyer

You’ve been arrested. Why you were doesn’t matter, nor does it matter whether or not you are actually guilty of the crimes for which you’ve been accused. What matters is that you need a lawyer. When arrested, every Canadian has the right to retain counsel without delay, and the right to be informed of that right. When you are informed of your right to retain counsel, do so immediately; find a lawyer you can trust, one who is specialized in the domain for which you were arrested, and get their support as soon as possible; here’s why.

You don’t know the law. The order in which court proceedings occur, the information and evidence that will be presented by the prosecution, how best to develop a defense; you don’t know the answers to these questions. You can attempt to do the research yourself in order to present a compelling case, but it’s very unlikely you’ll be able to learn in the time before your preliminary hearing what law students took years developing.

Having someone else represent you look better. You’ve seen court cases involving police officers, lawyers, even judges; these individuals, who know the law intimately as part of their day to day lives, still hire counsel to represent them. They know that the stress of handling your own case, when it’s your reputation and freedom on the line, can hamper your ability to effectively defend yourself. They know that having a lawyer makes the proceedings go more smoothly.

Your network of expert witnesses and private detectives is probably slim to none; your attorney will have plenty of contacts they can use to make your case go smoothly. They’ll also be in the know about how the prosecution, judge, and other court staff behave, as they’ve likely formed personal relationships with them.

You don’t know how you should plead, or whether to go ahead with a plea bargain because your case is the first case you’ve ever seen. Your attorney will have seen plenty of cases just like yours; they’ll have a great idea of how well the case is likely to go, based on the evidence and other factors, and if a plea bargain is a good idea, they’ll be most able to get you a good deal in negotiations. Should the case be one best sent to trial, they’ll be confident in your ability to come out with a good verdict.

Your lawyer will understand all the legalese. They’ll know what evidence can be suppressed, what goes into the fine print of a contract, and more. Let’s say you have a DUI charge; do you know about the last drink defense, or the new laws the federal government is putting in place for marijuana offenses, or how repeat offenses can affect your life? An experienced DUI lawyer could help you navigate these fine‐print issues and more; don’t risk your life by representing yourself. Always hire a lawyer.

Do I Need an Attorney at a DUI Hearing?

last drink dui defense

Going to court to defend yourself against a criminal charge is a daunting, intimidating prospect. Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious, criminal charge, and Manitoba has some of the strictest impaired driving laws in the country. The mandatory minimum sentence for an individual found guilty of impaired driving in Manitoba is a $1000 fine, a one year license suspension, and a criminal record. There are individuals who will plead not guilty during their arraignment, which is a pre‐trial procedure where the judge hears the accused’s plea. The next step for an individual who has plead not guilty is the hearing, where the judge evaluates the Crown’s case to see if there’s sufficient evidence to go to trial. Should the charge advance to the hearing stage, do you need an attorney to be present?

The short answer is while you don’t technically need an attorney, as you can always represent yourself, if you want to win your case having an attorney present at all phases of the procedure is a very good idea. While the preliminary hearing is not used to assess guilt, it is used to assess probable cause, and the judge will call on evidence from the prosecution as well as from the defense. Even lawyers who are sufficiently advanced in law to ostensibly represent themselves often opt to use attorneys to represent them; having representation looks good, and helps with the stress of presenting your own case. There are legal arguments that can be used during the hearing phase; these arguments are complex, and having a specialized DUI criminal attorney representing you can increase the chances that the judge won’t find that there is probable cause.

During the preliminary hearing, the Crown prosecutor may well offer a plea deal, to avoid going to trial, which is costly and time‐consuming. Clients with an attorney are more likely to see a plea deal offered, and more likely to have a better deal on the table; this is because defense attorneys are better equipped to negotiate with the prosecution. They know the letter of the law, and they often know the Crown’s attorney, so it’s easier for them to push a better deal.

Your attorney will also be equipped to decide that you need to be defended tooth and nail, reject plea deals and go to trial. It’s important to have the courage of your convictions, and if you and your attorney are convinced that the charges are unfair, it may be best for your personal integrity to go to trial.

This means that while you don’t literally need a DUI attorney when you go to a hearing, it is definitely in your best interest to have one. An experienced DUI attorney will help you through all the proceedings, guide you as to how you should plead, advise you during the preliminary hearing, and help you if you need to go to trial. The legal waterways are murky and almost impossible to navigate without a good guide; don’t risk your future, get a DUI attorney.

Can I Be Taken Into Custody After a Hearing?

You’ve been arrested, and charged with impaired driving. You are brought into jail and processed; most of the time, you’ll be released if the justice system does not believe you pose a flight risk; that is to say, they believe you will show up for your arraignment, where you will plead guilty or not guilty. You should almost always plead “not guilty” during your arraignment; this gives you time to consult with your attorney, go through a preliminary hearing, and choose to fight the charges by trial, if you want. Should you choose to plead guilty later, you’ll still be permitted to, so it’s purely to your advantage to start by pleading not guilty. Once you have done so, you will have a preliminary hearing, in which the judge determines whether or not there is sufficient evidence, known as probable cause, to take the case to trial. This preliminary hearing is not used to ascertain guilt, so is it possible to be taken into custody after the hearing?

The answer is yes, it is possible, but extremely rare; there are quite a few mitigating circumstances that make it unlikely you will be taken into custody. Firstly, if the courts already don’t believe you pose a flight risk, you won’t be taken into custody; it is reasonable for them to assume you’re sticking around, because you’ve showed up for your arraignment and your preliminary trial. This means they likely won’t ask for bail, so you won’t need to front any money as assurance of your appearance.

There are, however, circumstances in which the Crown prosecutors may feel you do pose a flight risk; in these circumstances, they might ask that the judge require bail from you, or if some bail has already been paid, they may ask that a larger amount be required. This won’t usually happen, but if you have a criminal record, or are a known flight risk, they may opt to raise your bail to a hard‐to‐pay amount so as to force you to stay in custody.

Strange circumstances like this make it essential to have a defense attorney at every step in the process, from the moment of your arrest to the end of a trial. They will likely advise you to plead not guilty during arraignment, even if there is strong evidence against you, so they can attempt to reach a plea deal during the preliminary hearing. Occasionally, the plea deal may involve jail time (for repeat or serious offenses); should such a deal be reached, you may be taken into custody after your preliminary hearing. Your defense attorney will best know how to handle your case, no matter what the charges may be; having an effective criminal defense lawyer is the best way to get good results out of your court case. Don’t risk high penalties, a criminal record and other potentially life‐changing consequences by representing yourself.

Should I Get an Attorney if I have a Domestic Violence Charge?

One of the most intense, troubling and severe charges that can be levied against an individual is a domestic violence charge. These charges are taken extremely seriously in Manitoba; if a police officer suspects domestic violence, they are legally required to arrest the suspected perpetrator. They cannot drop the charges against the individual, nor can the suspected victim, even if they want to; only the Crown prosecutor has the ability to drop the charges. Faced with such restrictions, and the serious legal consequences that can occur if you’re found guilty, you may wonder if you should have an attorney to defend you when you are so charged.

The answer is a resounding yes; you should get a criminal defense attorney, and you should get one as soon as possible. There are many steps to a domestic violence charge, and due to the serious nature of the charges a lawyer is essential to guarantee a strong representation of your case. The first thing that may occur after such a charge is what’s known as an Emergency Protection Order. This order may prevent you from entering certain areas, and may obligate you to hand over certain possessions to the alleged victim, as well as to hand over firearms to law enforcement. Such protection orders can be contested in court; a lawyer is essential to make sure the protection order is not onerous, overbearing or unfair.

Going to trial is itself a complex issue; when taken into custody and processed, you may be required to post bail, which a lawyer can help you navigate. A lawyer will help you know how to plea during your arraignment; most often, you will be told to plead “not guilty” so negotiations can take place between the prosecution and the defense. The preliminary hearing will require that the judge look at evidence from prosecution and defense to determine whether or not there is probable cause, reason enough to go to trial. There may be plea bargaining and a plea deal offered, or you may go to trial to defend your case. These decisions are best made with an experienced attorney, who will know the prosecution, the judges, and the strength of your case.

Domestic abuse charges can vary substantially in nature; threats of violence constitute domestic abuse, as does assault with or without a weapon. Your criminal record, standing in your community, and the severity of the charges can all change the likeliness of a plea deal, conviction and sentencing; there are several other factors that may come into play as well. The Criminal Code considers domestic abuse to be particularly onerous, and requires that a judge impose a stiffer sentence than in a non‐domestic assault charge; this means the consequences of a guilty conviction are severe and far‐reaching.

This means it is essential that you have excellent criminal defense representation if domestic assault charges are levied against you. Don’t risk a lifetime of regret by representing yourself; anytime you are accused of a crime, it’s in your best interest to hire a lawyer.

The Difference Between Criminal and Civil Cases

There are many different reasons you might be brought before a court; you may be in front of a judge as a defendant, or you may be a plaintiff pursuing property damages because your neighbor’s dog dug up your favorite plants. The plethora of different cases that can be brought before the courts in Canada can be sorted into two broad categories: civil cases and criminal cases. The two categories differ substantially in how they are seen and processed by the courts; here’s a look at the differences between civil and criminal cases.

Civil cases are brought before the court when one party is suing another party; this can be over the terms of a contract, property damage, or liability, when one party is said to have caused physical damage to another party through negligence. During a civil case, the party seeking compensation is known as the plaintiff, and the person being sued is known as the defendant.

One of the key differences between a civil case and a criminal one is the basis on which the judge or jury decide the case. Criminal cases are decided when guilt has been proved beyond a reasonable doubt; civil cases are decided on a balance of probabilities. This means that to determine whether or not the plaintiff is liable, evidence presented from both sides is evaluated, and the side with the more compelling case is the victor. This method of evaluating cases evokes the image of the blind scales of justice, weighing both sides to see how judgement should be made. Should the evidence be equal on both sides, the defendant is generally the victor, as the defendant’s position is considered better all other things being equal. When a suit is brought before a defendant, they have the right to respond; if they do not, the plaintiff is the victor.

Criminal cases work very differently. The defendant in a criminal case, known as the accused, is considered innocent until they are proven guilty; this means that if a criminal case is brought before the accused, they must plead guilty or not guilty, and if they plead not guilty, a trial must be held unless a plea deal is arranged prior to the trial. Civil cases are undertaken by private parties; criminal cases are tried for crimes that are considered harmful to society as a whole, and so are brought forth by the state.

Criminal offenses are generally pursued under violations of the Criminal Code, though other federal law violations can also be considered criminal. When trying to ascertain what punishment should be levied against an accused found guilty, the Criminal Code and other legal documents are consulted. This differs substantially from civil cases, which are more compensatory and less punitive by nature.

For a civil case, you should get a lawyer who specializes in civil cases, as the law works very differently than in criminal cases. There are recognized criminal lawyers in Winnipeg, so should you be accused of committing a crime, get in contact with them right away.

4 Myths About Marijuana And DUI

Below we list 4 myths about marijuana and DUI:

Myth Number One: Legalizing Marijuana Encourages Teenager Use

The most typical concern that surrounds marijuana legalization is its possible impact on teenagers. Many opponents claim that ending prohibition will serve as an endorsement for youth to use marijuana. However, time and time again, research has proven there to be no link between the passing of cannabis laws and a rise in teenager use.

Myth Number Two: Marijuana Legalization Leads to a Rise in Crime

One other common misconception of the legalization of marijuana is that it’ll cause a rise in crime. However, in legalizing marijuana, crime rates inevitably decrease, as there’s no longer a punishment for small marijuana possession. In the year that followed legalization, arrests for possession dipped by 98% and arrests on any cannabis‐associated charge declined by 85%.

However, the downward crime trend after legalization additionally extends to crimes unassociated with marijuana. For instance, according to Drug Policy Alliance research, the total crime rate declined in the initial 11 months following the initial retail cannabis stores opening their doors in the year 2014. Violent crimes fell 2.2%, and burglaries and property crime, in general, dropped by 9.5% and 8.9%, respectively. One other study assessing the impact of medical legalization of marijuana came up with similar conclusions, with crime dipping after the passing of medical marijuana laws.

Myth Number Three: Marijuana Legalization Leads to an Increase in DUI’s

With the psychoactive effects of marijuana, legalization opponents claim that permitting folks to use marijuana will cause an increase in incidents of DUI. While it is a fact that large marijuana doses may affect psychomotor perception and performance, studies from places which have legalized cannabis have proven this worry to be unwarranted.

The study by the Drug Policy Alliance discovered that traffic deaths in the 11 months after the start of recreational cannabis sales dropped by 3%, as compared with the same period within the previous year.

Myth Number Four: Legalization of Marijuana Encourages the Use of More Severe Drugs

Opponents worried that legalization of marijuana will cause a rise in the amount of folks who ultimately move onto more harmful drugs need not be concerned. A National Institute on Drug Abuse report concluded that, ‘most folks who use cannabis don’t go on to use other, ‘harder’ drugs.’ An Institute of Medicine report also discovered no proof that cannabis use is connected with the eventual use of additional illicit drugs. Even United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch acknowledged recently that cannabis isn’t a gateway drug.

Studies indicate that marijuana is beneficial for addiction treatment. Cannabis has proven it may be used to decrease the severity of heroin or opioid withdrawals and curb alcohol cravings. It also can assist addicts in their path to recovery by reducing anxiety and insomnia.

For more myths about marijuana and DUI please feel free to get in touch with the one of the top recognized criminal lawyers in Winnipeg, Matthew Gould today!

What Are the Different Types of Criminal Offences?

Even though there are several different types of crimes, criminal acts generally can be divided into these categories: financial crimes, statutory crimes, inchoate crimes, property crimes, and personal crimes.

Personal Crimes

These are those crimes which result in mental or physical harm to one other person. Personal crimes may be separated into two categories, forms of homicide and additional violent crimes. Where the physical danger to another person is so serious that it leads to death, the defendant might be charged with any one of many kinds of homicide, which includes, for instance, vehicular homicide, voluntary manslaughter, or first‐degree murder.

Property Crimes

Typically, property crimes involve interference with another person’s property. Even though they might involve mental or physical harm to another, they mainly result in the deprivation of the enjoyment or use of property. Most property crimes are theft crimes, which include shoplifting, auto theft, robbery, larceny, and burglary.

Inchoate Crimes

These types of criminal offences refer to those crimes which were initiated yet not completed, and actions that help in the commission of an additional crime. Such crimes require more than one individual merely hoping or intending to commit a crime. Instead, the person has to take a ‘significant step’ towards completing the crime to be found guilty. These types of crimes include conspiracy, attempt, and aiding and abetting. Within some instances, inchoate crimes may be punished to the same degree the underlying crime could be punished, whereas in other instances, the punishment may be less serious.

Statutory Crimes

These types of criminal offences include those crimes, beside the crimes listed above, which usually are proscribed by statute. Three substantial kinds of statutory crimes are alcohol associated crimes, traffic offenses, drug crimes, and white collar/ financial crimes. Such crimes are especially prohibited by statute due to society hoping to deter people from being involved in them.

A drug crime concerns any involvement in the distribution or creation of drugs, which include drug trafficking, drug manufacturing, and drug possession. One criminal law area that currently is receiving a good amount of attention is the prosecution and regulation of drug crimes associated with medical marijuana. Due to state trends toward medical marijuana legalization, it’s a criminal law area that’s in flux.

Traffic offenses involve crimes which might arise while someone is operating a vehicle on public streets. Because a DWI/OWI/DUI involves both alcohol, as well as the use of an automobile, it’s considered both an alcohol associated crime and traffic offense. Extra traffic offenses involve driving on a revoked or suspended license, vehicular assault, reckless driving, hit‐and‐run accidents, driving without a license.

Financial and Additional Crimes

Lastly, financial crimes oftentimes include fraud or deception for financial gain. Even though white‐collar crimes get their name from corporate officers who historically perpetrated them, anybody in any industry may commit a white‐collar offence. Such crimes involve many kinds of blackmail and fraud, money laundering and embezzlement cybercrime and tax evasion.

For more information on the different types of criminal offences, contact effective criminal defense lawyer Matthew Gould today!

What is it Called When You Damage Someone’s Property?

Damaging someone else’s property is a serious offense that carries legal consequences. Many people want to know the potential penalty for their crime, but they aren’t sure where to turn. After all, what is it actually called when you damage someone’s property? Knowing what it is called and what it could mean for you is the first step toward knowing your rights and the law itself.

There are several different terms that all relate to damaging someone else’s property. Law enforcement often uses these interchangeably, but they all fall under the general heading of vandalism. The other names for property damage include criminal damage, malicious trespass, or malicious mischief. Many of the offenders for a property‐related crime like vandalism are juveniles, but these offenses have been decreasing over the years. In fact, they fell a percentage in some areas over the past decade.

Vandalism is a serious crime that is often broken down into multiple offenses including:

  • Spray painting property (including graffiti)
  • Egging or keying someone’s property
  • Destroying public property such as road signs, benches, or buildings
  • Slashing tires
  • Kicking or breaking property using your hands or feet
  • Breaking windows
  • Impairment of utility services
  • Desecration of a church, cemetery, or other monuments
  • Littering in some areas

As you can see, vandalism applies to personal property as well as public property. Any time that you damage something that does not belong to you with your hands, feet or another tool, you are committing an act of vandalism. This is a criminal offense, regardless of how minor or trivial it may have seemed to you.

Punishment for Vandalism Charges

The punishment for vandalism charges will vary depending on the severity of your offense. Minor damage is usually classified as a misdemeanor with less extensive penalties. You may serve a short jail sentence under one year or pay a fine. These fines are often relatively small. Keep in mind that having several small citations on your record can add up to bigger penalties in the future.

When the charges are more serious, you may be charged with a felony for your vandalism. This will involve larger fines and longer jail times that extend past the one‐year mark. You may also experience felony charges if you are a repeat offender with multiple vandalism charges on your record.

Many offenders don’t realize that they may still have to pay to right the wrong that was done. This is referred to as criminal restitution, and the money is designed to help repair what was damaged. The victim receives this money directly to help make up for their overall loss of property or their economic loss during the time it was unable to be used.

When you have vandalism charges facing you, you deserve to know what your rights are and what the law is. You need criminal defence representation that knows exactly what you need. Give Matthew Gould a call today to get started on defending your case!