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Calgary Criminal Law & Misdemeanours Law Blog

3 face drug charges in Alberta following 2 overdose deaths

In Alberta, two men and one woman are facing drug charges following the deaths of two people on the Blood reserve. News sources indicate that the decedents, who were found at a home in Standoff on March 20, are believed to have overdosed on a potent batch of illegal fentanyl. Sources say that two additional people were taken to hospital in connection with the incident. At press time, information regarding their condition is not available.

Illegally produced fentanyl has reportedly been linked to more than 100 deaths in the southern reserve in 2014, and police indicate that more than 88,000 pills were seized in surrounding communities from April 2014 through March 2015. Unlike fentanyl that is produced legally for pharmaceutical use, the illegal version of the drug, which can be stronger and more toxic than morphine, is created in covert drug labs and sold on the street in pill or powder form. Sources report that some fentanyl buyers may be led to believe that they are purchasing heroin or OxyContin.

Case against Alberta nurse proceeds with juvenile's testimony

The criminal case against a Calgary nurse who formerly worked at the Alberta Children's Hospital proceeded with testimony by a juvenile on the trial's first day. The 46-year-old nurse is facing charges of sexual interference and sexual assault for conduct that allegedly occurred at the hospital in September 2011.

According to the teenager's testimony, the man touched him sexually on his genitals and talked about masturbation to him twice after he went to the hospital for treatment of an abscess. The young man was reportedly 13 years old at the time of the alleged incident.

RCMP charge 2 in connection with $400K Alberta drug bust

According to authorities with the Grande Prairie RCMP, two men have been charged in connection with a drug case in which police reportedly discovered $412,000 in cash. The charges came after law enforcement officials executed search warrants on March 1.

The warrants were executed by officers on two vehicles and two separate apartments. The apartments were located in the areas of 97th Street and 82nd Avenue in Patterson as well as near 96th Avenue and 92nd Street in Smith. Upon the searches, officers reportedly recovered the cash as well as 915 grams of alleged cocaine, 2 ounces of heroin, 507 fentanyl pills and 10 ounces of meth.

Alberta licence suspensions upheld

An Alberta law that suspends the licences of anyone charged with drunk driving leading up to their trial has been upheld. The law has been in effect since June 2012, but drivers whose licences were suspended after they were charged with driving under the influence challenged the law in 2013.

The drivers argued that the law rests upon a presumption of guilt before the trial and violates the rights of individuals who face the charges. Unlike other provinces, Alberta does not have a limit to how long this suspension may last. With trial dates reaching out as far as a year and a half, some individuals were advised to enter guilty pleas in order to get their licences back. However, the judge in this case argued that driving a vehicle is not a constitutional right. The judge also wrote in his opinion that the law had saved lives.

Man sentenced in $2.5 million drug bust in Alberta

On Feb. 23, a judge at Lethbridge Court of Queen's Bench sentenced a 57-year-old man to two years in a federal penitentiary after he entered a plea of guilty to one charge of drug possession for the purpose of trafficking. The drug bust, one of the biggest in Alberta's history, included approximately $2.5 million worth of marijuana.

According to the report, on Oct. 22, 2013, Royal Canadian Mounted Police pulled over an eastbound semitrailer near Crowsnest Pass on Highway 3. As they were checking the truck's log records, they noticed the odd behaviour of the Ontario man and another passenger, a 57-year-old woman. Suspecting drugs, officers searched the truck with the help of a narcotic-detection canine and located at least two kilograms of hash, about seven kilograms of cannabis resin and 136 kilograms of marijuana hidden below the sleeping area, which is enough to make at least 450,000 marijuana joints.

Understanding the differences between manslaughter and murder

Alberta residents may be interested in how the law differentiates between different types of serious crimes. When a person is killed, the circumstances surrounding it can determine the nature of the criminal charges and the minimum punishment.

The law distinguishes between acts of homicide on a few important points. First-degree murder requires that the act of killing be both intentional and planned ahead of time. This type of offence carries an automatic sentence of life imprisonment and ineligibility for parole for the first 25 years of that prison term. Second-degree murder, on the other hand, does not require that the killing be planned. However, there must still be intent to commit the homicide. The penalties for second-degree murder must be at least 10 years in prison without parole but could potentially be even longer.

Man admits he meant to drive into courts centre

On Feb. 5, a 30-year-old man in Alberta was sentenced to spend eight months in jail after pleading guilty to intentionally driving into the Calgary Courts Centre. At around 3 a.m. on July 29, 2013, the man crashed through a glass wall at the courts centre in his Ford F-150. He reportedly explained to his lawyer that the hand of God had guided him to do it.

As a result, the man received a criminal charge for dangerous driving and another for mischief. In addition to the 8-month prison sentence, the man was ordered to pay $18,000 in restitution. According to the Crown prosecutor in the case, the repair bill for the damage had been almost $80,000.

Resolution of cases through pretrial negotiation

Many people in Alberta might not know the ins and outs of plea-bargaining, but the practice is established within the criminal justice system in the province. At the start of a case, both the crown prosecutor as well as the defence lawyer thoroughly review the evidence submitted by law enforcement and others in order to determine what the likely outcome of a case might be if it were to proceed to trial.

In many criminal cases, the evidence will appear to be insufficient to stand up in court in the event the case is left to the court or jury's determination of the matter. The analysis that will lead to such a prognostication is often based on existing case law of which the public may be largely unaware.

Chestermere man facing multiple drug charges

Officers with the Chestermere Royal Canadian Mounted Police initially arrested a 20-year-old Chestermere man following a traffic stop on Jan. 14. From evidence apparently gleaned during the stop, officers were then able to seek, obtain and then execute a search warrant on Jan. 15 at a Sandy Cove Beach home.

RCMP officers reported large amounts of marijuana and cash were seized, both from the home as well as from the suspect during his arrest. The man is facing several charges, including possession with intent to traffic in drugs, possession of a dangerous weapon and possession of property obtained through criminal means.

Understanding murder charges in Canada

People living in Canada may benefit from understanding more about the laws governing murder charges in their area. Murder may be also be referred to as culpable homicide. These offenses may be charged as first- or second-degree crimes. The Criminal Code describes first-degree murder charges as an offense that is both planned and deliberate. However, if a death occurs during the commission of certain crimes, the defendant may charged with first-degree murder even if there was no deliberation or planning involved.

Sentencing and eligibility for parole are often directly related to whether the defendant was convicted on a first- or second-degree charge. Because there is such a stark difference between first- and second-degree charges, people accused of murder typically benefit from obtaining legal counsel who are able to show that the evidence does not support the severity of the charges.