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Why You Should Call a Criminal Defence Lawyer

Updated: Feb 6, 2020

Being charged with a criminal or quasi-criminal offence is one of the most stressful experiences a person can go through, causing fear, worry and uncertainty. There are many possible negative consequences that flow from a conviction, including the possibility to be fined large sums of money, placed on probation and even incarceration.

Hiring an experienced criminal lawyer can help reduce the stress and worry, and ensures you receive proper representation to help your matter reach the best possible outcome in the shortest amount of a time. Banks Gubbins & Andrews Criminal Law in Grand Prairie has over 50 years of combined experience defending individuals charged with all types of criminal offences, including both federal criminal charges and provincial regulatory offences.

What Federal Crimes?

There are many federal laws that create criminal offences. Seen as “true crime,” these offences apply in every province and territory in Canada. In addition to fines, probation and incarceration, these offences may result in a criminal record. While numerous federal laws contain criminal prohibitions, the two most common are the Criminal Code and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

The Criminal Code of Canada defines most of the criminal offences in our country. As well, the Criminal Code sets out the procedure for dealing with criminal trials, such as bail applications, selecting a jury and the principles and purposes of sentencing. Crimes included in the Criminal Code range from common serious offences such as theft, fraud and assault to the most serious offence of murder. While these are federally enacted laws, the power to prosecute these offences is granted to Crown Prosecutors employed by the province.

For prosecution of young offenders, the Youth Criminal Justice Act sets out specific procedures and sentencing practices. Young offenders entail individuals older than 12 but under 18 years of age who are alleged to have committed a criminal offence.

The Controlled Drugs and Substances Act is federal legislation that regulates and criminalizes activities related to a large range of substances, including common drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy and fentanyl. Crown Prosecutors employed by the federal government are responsible for prosecuting these drug offences.

Provincial regulatory offences are laws written by the provincial legislature and apply only in the province in which they are enacted. Provincial offences are sometimes referred to as quasi-criminal offences, as they are different from criminal charges enacted by the federal parliament, which apply nation-wide.

One main difference between a regulatory offence and other criminal offence is the absence of a criminal record for regulatory offences; an individual who is convicted of a quasi-criminal provincial offence does not receive a criminal record. However, serious punishments may still result from being convicted of a serious regulatory offence, including heavy fines and imprisonment.

Numerous statues in Alberta enact quasi-criminal laws, including the Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Act and Traffic Safety Act.

The Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Act regulates gambling as well as liquor and marijuana sales in the province of Alberta. Most offences under this law are punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and imprisonment of up to six months. Offences under this law include activities such as conducting or managing a gaming activity without a license (section 36), sale of liquor to a minor (section 87) or obstructing an inspector who is enforcing the law (section 99). Some of the more serious offences carry fines of up to $500,000 and prison terms up to a year. These offences include activities such as making, selling, advertising or distributing lottery tickets without a license (section 45), adulteration of liquor (section 73) and the sale of cannabis without authorization (section 90.23).

The Traffic Safety Act regulates all driving activities on roads and highways across Alberta. This legislation includes a number of common offences such as speeding, driving without a seatbelt, driving while distracted by an electronic device. More serious offences are also covered by this law, such as careless driving, driving while suspended, commercial vehicle transport tickets, or making a false statement regarding an application or accident report.

Like the Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Act and other provincial legislation, punishment for violating the Traffic Safety Act can result in fines and incarceration. Numerous mandatory minimum punishments are found in the Traffic Safety Act. If a person commits a second offence of driving while unauthorized within one year, s/he must receive imprisonment of at least 14 days, up to a maximum of 6 months.

There are many more provincially created laws that create quasi-criminal offences. While convictions for these offences do not result in criminal records, there are still serious consequences. If you are charged with one of these offences, a criminal defence lawyer in Grand Prairie can advise on how to defend the charge and, if you are convicted, make submissions to the judge to limit the punishment you receive.

The Importance of a Criminal Defence Lawyer

Just like if you were diagnosed with a serious medical condition, you would want to be treated by a specialist who could provide you with the best care and give you the best chance at a positive outcome. For the same reasons, it is important to receive proper legal advice if you are charged with any criminal offence, regardless of whether it is a quasi-criminal offence enacted by the province or a true-crime offence enacted by the federal government.

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