Sentencing a First-Time Offender in Ontario

OTTAWA CRIMINAL DEFENCE LAWYER – First-time offenders – that is, individuals who are facing charges but have no previous criminal record – have a unique place within Ontario’s criminal justice system.

That’s because Canadian criminal courts would rather see first-time offenders – especially younger ones – taking part in rehabilitative programs instead of serving lengthy prison sentences.

In the groundbreaking 1996 case of R. v.Priest, an Ontario appeal court judge made some statements regarding first-time offenders which reflect their position within Canada’s correctional and judicial systems.

“A first sentence of imprisonment should be as short as possible,” the judge’s statement read, “And tailored to the individual circumstances of the accused rather than solely for the purpose of general deterrence.”

That particular case involved an alleged offender who was just 19 years old. In the case of “youthful” accused like this one, the goal is to apply alternatives such as longer parole periods instead of incarcerating.

This applies, to a lesser extent, even to Canadian adults who are charged with their first criminal offence. Section 718 of the Criminal Code of Canada has more detailed information on what factors should mitigate a criminal penalty – reduce the seriousness of it – and emphasizes that more serious sentences should be reserved for repeat offenders.

If you’ve been charged with a criminal offence for the first time, that’s an important piece of information to share with your criminal defence lawyer. Not only can it help your case before the court; it can also make your penalty less severe if you are convicted of the crime.

Have you been charged with a criminal offence in Ontario? You probably have a lot of questions, especially if this is the first set of charges you have ever faced. It’s important to get help and information from an experienced defence lawyer. For more information, contact the Ottawa criminal defence lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth by email [email protected] or by phone at (613) 233-4529.

Terrorism Law, Charges and Defence Lawyers in Canada: Some Helpful Facts

OTTAWA CRIMINAL DEFENCE LAWYER – With recent news headlines focusing on large-scale Ontario terrorism sweeps – and the bulk of those investigations focused on Ottawa – it’s a good time to learn some of the basics of Canadian terrorism law.

The Ottawa criminal defence lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth specialize in terrorism cases, and we’ve just uploaded a helpful new article on the subject: Terrorism Law in Canada and Understanding Terrorism Charges.

Now more than ever, this is a timely issue. New developments are surfacing in the recent “Operation Samosa” case, in which four Ontario residents – including Ottawa residents – were arrested for facilitating, participating, conspiring and possessing harmful property in connection with a terrorist activity.

As the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), the RCMP, and other investigative bodies become more focused on containing terrorist threats, there is also a growing need to defend those wrongfully accused. There are very specific guidelines constituting “terrorist activity” and “terrorist” group contained within the Criminal Code of Canada, and some of the activities constituting terrorism offences can be difficult to prove in court. You can find more information on terrorism charges and offences in our newest article, or have a look at the Criminal Code for yourself.

If you’ve been contacted by CSIS, the RCMP, or another government organization concerning your possible involvement with a terrorist group or activity, the first thing to do is contact an experienced defence lawyer who understands terrorism cases. For more information, don’t hesitate to contact an Ottawa criminal defence lawyer at Auger Hollingsworth by phone (613) 233-4529 or by email [email protected].

Terrorism Law in Canada and Understanding Terrorist Charges

Canadian terrorism laws – and resultantly, lawyers specializing in terrorism cases – have been around since terrorism-related language was introduced into our Criminal Code following the tragic terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Nearly ten years later, we are starting to see more individuals facing prosecution under these new sections of the Criminal Code. Terrorism, consequently, is becoming a much more prominent area of concern for criminal lawyers in Ottawa and the rest of Ontario.

Recently, four men from Ottawa and London were arrested for their alleged involvement in a terrorism plot which the RCMP dubbed “Operation Samosa.” Charges against the men include conspiracy to facilitate a terrorist offence, and making or possessing explosives intended to harm others in support of a terrorist group.

Similar terrorism stings have been making headlines over the last few years.  In 2006, 18 citizens – the “Toronto 18” – were arrested for planning a bombing in Toronto and trying to establish a terrorist network. In 2008, an Ottawa man was found guilty of building a bomb remote for terrorism-related purposes, and for willingly participating in a terrorist plot.

In many of these situations, terrorism investigations are carried out by the RCMP with assistance from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), who use surveillance to pinpoint alleged terrorist activity.

For an action to count as terrorist activity, it must be planned or performed in connection with an ideological, political, or religious cause. It must also be intended to harm/endanger others, put public safety at risk, damage property, or seriously disrupt an essential system.

Under the Criminal Code of Canada’s section on terrorism, a number of actions alert these forces to terrorist activity, and could result in terrorism charges:

  • Directly planning or carrying out a terrorist activity.
  • Knowingly dealing with terrorists.
  • Possessing property for terrorist purposes, or knowingly making property and services available for terrorist services.
  • Participating in and/or facilitating the activities of a terrorist group – even if the activities are never fully carried out.
  • Conspiring with a terrorist group.
  • Harbouring or instructing terrorists, or knowingly allowing others to do so.
  • Orchestrating a terrorism hoax – in other words, misinforming others to make them believe a terrorist activity is underway, even if that’s not the case.

What constitutes a terrorist group? The Ministry of Public Safety maintains a publicly available list of known terrorist groups. Any group not found on the list can still be designated under the law as a “terrorist group” – as long as one of the group’s purposes is to plan and/or carry out a terrorist activity.

If you’ve been contacted by CSIS, the RCMP, or another government organization concerning your possible involvement with a terrorist group or activity, the first thing to do is contact an experienced criminal lawyer who understands terrorism cases. For more information, don’t hesitate to contact an Ottawa criminal defence lawyer at Auger Hollingsworth by phone (613) 233-4529 or by email [email protected].