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Calgary Criminal Law & Misdemeanours Law Blog

What are the types of assault in Alberta?

Some Alberta residents may imagine violent physical confrontations when the subject of assault is brought up, but it is intent rather than the degree of violence that forms the basis of an assault charge. Thus, individuals may be charged with assault for making a threatening gesture to another individual even if no physical contact is made.

There are four types of assault charge in Alberta. Aggravated assault is the violent crime that many people associate with assault. An assault is considered aggravated when the action maims, disfigures or endangers life. Simple assault, on the other hand, is an unwanted touch or gesture that does not cause injury or damage.

Alberta woman sentenced in fatal drunk driving case

A 27-year-old Alberta woman has been sentenced following a car accident in which two individuals were killed. The accident occurred on Jan. 8, 2012. Both the woman's passenger and the driver of another car died after she ran a red light at Country Hill Boulevard N.W. and Shaganappi Trail.

The woman was convicted of two counts of impaired driving causing death and two counts of criminal negligence causing death in May. According to authorities, her blood alcohol content at the time of the accident was almost three times the legal limit.

2 faces charges in Alberta drug raid

A 32-year-old man and his 35-year-old sister are facing drugs and weapons charges following a raid on a rental car and an apartment building in Alberta. Police say they began with a tip and spent a month investigating the case.

On Oct. 15, police seized nearly $180,000 worth of drugs including cocaine, GHB, ecstasy, MDMA, hashish, marijuana and LSD. In addition, they found almost $35,000 in Canadian currency, a cash counter, two handguns, 36 rounds of ammunition and a Mac-10 pistol plus magazine.

3 men facing charges after police chase

Three Alberta residents were taken into police custody for various criminal charges on Oct. 24. The individuals were charged after a short vehicle chase led authorities to a home in Whitecourt. Before the chase, police in Edmonton had reportedly alerted RCMP to the presence of a white Dodge truck that was suspected of being involved in an armed robbery.

While RCMP was pursuing the truck, they determined its location using tips from the public. Eventually, officers were led to a rural location close to the Blue Ridge Highway. At the property, officers found the vehicle they were looking for along with three men. Officers also found one loaded firearm, one replica firearm and unreported amounts of suspected cocaine and heroin. All three of the individuals received weapons charges.

Preventing drunk driving in Alberta

Alberta residents may benefit from learning more about the Ministry of Transportation's initiatives and penalties, which are used in an effort to minimize drunk driving offences. The province implemented impaired driving laws during 2012 to help reduce the number of motor vehicle fatalities and injuries occurring on the roadways. Motorists who refuse to submit to a sobriety test or those determined to be criminally impaired, typically face worse penalties. The new laws increased penalties for drivers registering a blood alcohol content level of at least .05 or .08 percent.

The new legislation attempted to mitigate drunk driving by requiring more ignition interlock devices and mandatory corrective driving courses. Alberta officials decided that increased fines and demerit points were not as effective in achieving a significant change in drivers' behaviour. While ensuring safer travel on Alberta's roadways, officials maintain that the 2012 amendments do not prevent responsible residents from enjoying a few drinks with friends. The enhanced drunk driving penalties were designed to account for repeat offenders and first-time offenders as well.

Man sentenced for assault charges after 17-year exile

On Oct. 10, a man in Alberta received a sentence for charges that were almost two decades old. According to the fugitive apprehension unit of the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team, the man lived in his basement for 17 years while he was wanted on a warrant for assault charges. During that time, the man cared for his children while his wife worked.

In 1995, the then 33-year-old man was accused of committing several violent crimes while working as a mid-level drug dealer. Believing he had been robbed of two pounds of marijuana, the accused man allegedly beat a 29-year-old man and killed his dog with the help of other gang members. A few weeks later, the man allegedly cut the same man's fingers and threatened to kill him if he alerted police.

Controlled substance groups and maximum sentences

Alberta residents might be interested to learn about the potential prison sentences one may face for possession, production or trafficking of illegal drugs. Because criminal law classifies each drug differently, the potential prison sentence a person may be handed after a criminal drug conviction depends on the type of drug involved in their alleged crime.

A group of controlled substances called amphetamines includes drugs that are commonly referred to as speed, ice, crystal meth and ecstasy. This group also includes dextroamphetamines, which are also called dexies. A minor possession offence involving one of these drugs may lead to a fine of up to $1,000 and up to six months in prison. A person who is convicted of trafficking in one of these drugs could face up to 10 years in prison.

Alberta court refuuses to hear argument over cocaine sentencing

Alberta's highest court has decided not to hear arguments concerning judicial guidelines for the sentencing of cocaine dealers established in a 1981 ruling. The Sept. 24 decision was reached by a panel comprised of three members. A defense lawyer had argued that sentencing guidelines for drug offences should be reevaluated in light of evolving legal and societal standards.

The 1981 Alberta Court of Appeal decision set a benchmark sentence of three years for those convicted of dealing cocaine even if only small amounts of the drug were involved. However, the ruling allowed a certain degree of judicial discretion. Judges could adjust the sentence up or down from the three-year baseline in light of the circumstances of a particular case.

3 teens detained for home invasion

According to local reports, three teenage boys have been taken into custody for their alleged involvement with a violent home invasion that occurred in southern Alberta on Sept. 16. Police responded to call around 11:50 p.m. about a break-and-enter in progress located on the 900 block of 21st Avenue in Coaldale. Officers say that the 23-year-old male resident was assaulted with a bat and pepper-sprayed by one of the three teenage assailants who entered the home.

Despite his injuries, the resident detained one of the teens until authorities arrived. The other two individuals fled the scene before police reached the residence. Officers responding to the scene claim to have confiscated the bat, pepper spray and tools used to commit the break-in. Police also detained the 18-year-old Coaldale resident and charged him with two counts of assault with a weapon, possession of an offensive weapon, being disguised with intent, housebreaking and committing robbery.

What are the penalties for drunk driving in Alberta?

On July 1, 2012, Alberta changed the penalties for driving with a blood-alcohol concentration of .08 per cent or higher, and on Sept. 1, 2012, penalties for a BAC of .05 per cent or higher were also altered. In an effort to reduce the number of alcohol-related fatalities, fines for these charges were eliminated, and a greater emphasis was put on mandatory treatment courses and the use of ignition interlock devices, which prevent individuals who do not pass a breath test from being able to start a vehicle.

The penalties for a first-time impaired driving conviction with a BAC of .08 per cent or higher include a criminal charge, a driver's license suspension, vehicle seizure, use of an ignition interlock system and a mandatory Planning Ahead Course. A second and third conviction also carry these penalties with increasing durations, but the required Planning Ahead course is replaced by a mandatory Impact course.