Edmonton Criminal Law and Family Law Blog

Trucker charged with driving offences from Jan. crash

Investigations into the circumstances surrounding deadly vehicle accidents can take time. Police may call on experts in various fields to examine the vehicles involved and determine how the events transpired. They may speak to witnesses, perhaps including those who knew the drivers of the vehicles and their actions prior to the collision. Alberta police recently completed their investigation into a crash from January, filing charges for several driving offences against the operator of a semitruck.

The truck allegedly rear-ended an SUV as the driver of the smaller vehicle slowed to exit the highway. Police and emergency responders came to the scene and transported the driver of the SUV to hospital with what appeared to be minor injuries. However, once in hospital, the 69-year-old man's condition began to deteriorate rapidly. He died a few hours later.

Alberta family law still considers pets as property in divorce

When a couple heads for divorce, the law provides clear guidance for any disputes they cannot resolve. Laws dividing their assets and debts, calculating support payments and arranging parenting time all seek the best interests of those involved. However, it may not be so for Alberta couples who share pets. Family law has not quite caught up to changing trends in marriages.

Millennials who marry are more likely to remain childless, preferring to raise pets. When pets take the place of children in a couple's life, the fate of the pet in a divorce can be emotional and contentious. Unfortunately, the courts still consider pets as property and may make rulings that are unpleasant, such as selling a dog and splitting the profits. A couple who cannot reach an agreement about how to share time with the pet and responsibility for its care may end up in a legal battle.

A Refresher On Seasonal Driving Safety Tips

With summer just around the corner, many people are already thinking of the ways they will spend their time during the warmer temperatures. Road trips, bike rides, playing hockey in the streets – or just going outside for a walk are all common summer activities.

These activities can easily affect driving conditions during the summer months. Warmer weather generally means more traffic on the road – and not just cars. To make sure you don’t forget what to look for on the road during sunny days, we’ve complied a helpful list of tips.

Drug convictions result in severe penalties under criminal law

Most everyone will agree that the drug trade creates problems in neighbourhoods. Where drugs are trafficked, other offences, including violent crimes, tend to rise. Because of this, police across Alberta and other provinces are zealously focusing on reducing drug crimes by targeting those whom they suspect are involved in the trade of illegal substances. After an arrest for drug offences, defendants may face a complex criminal law process.

Recent activity by law enforcement resulted in the arrest of four people, ranging in ages from 18 to 48. The Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team along with local police conducted a sting operation over the span of one week. In addition to the arrests, police say they seized one fentanyl pill and over 200 grams of cocaine. While this may seem a small amount, police consider it a victory to get any drugs off the streets.

Social media can damage family law matters

Facebook and other social media sites are part of normal life for most people in Alberta and across the world. Many use their social media to learn of news events, find tips for health and homemaking, and lighten their day with amusing videos. Mostly, however, social media is a forum for free expression of one's opinions and sharing life events with friends and family. While this may seem innocent enough, social media posts can derail cases involving family law matters.

The casual status updates of Facebook or the photos that seem too funny not to share can come back to bite the poster who happens to be involved in a legal battle. More often, opposing sides are gaining court orders to access social media pages in search of evidence that the account holder is not being truthful. While social media information is useful in criminal cases as well as insurance claims, in family law, the issues can be deeply personal.

New law leads to charges for drunk driving offences

In just a few months, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Alberta are already seeing results from the passage of the new law intended to deter drunk driving. The law, passed in December allows police to demand breath samples using a portable device even when they stop drivers for unrelated driving offences. A driver does not have to show any signs of being intoxicated or impaired for an officer to request the test.

Since the implementation of the new legislation, RCMP has arrested 18 drivers and charged them with impaired driving. Three of those drivers were criminally charged, and 12 received Immediate Roadside Sanctions, which results in the seizure of their vehicles and 72-hour licence suspensions. Three other drivers received 30-day licence suspensions under the zero-tolerance law because they were still carrying graduated driver's licences.

Criminal law investigation leads to 3 arrests

Alberta police have a mission to put a stop to drug trafficking and the crime that often follows it. To this end, they have formed an agency called Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team, which unites police from surrounding units, including Edmonton police and RCMP. Investigations into organized crime and other matters of criminal law may take weeks or longer, and police may focus on subjects until they have cause to apprehend a suspect. A recent ALERT investigation resulted in three arrests.

The team made two arrests at separate traffic stops. During the stops, police searched the vehicles and allegedly seized drugs and over $800 in cash. Police say they confiscated weapons, including brass knuckles and a loaded Glock .40 calibre handgun from which someone had filed the serial number.

Family law contracts are not something to take lightly

One of the first things the media wants to know after hearing of the engagement or marriage of a celebrity is whether the celebrity signed a prenuptial agreement. Too often, the rich and famous have lost millions in contentious divorces and may have been spared the loss with the safeguard of a prenup. However, prenuptial agreements are not exclusive to the likes of Justin Bieber, and couples in Alberta who marry without the benefit of such an agreement can still take steps to protect themselves under the Family Law Act.

If it is too late for a prenuptial agreement, couples can still create contracts that outline which property is separate from marital assets and how joint assets will be split in the event of divorce. Postnuptial agreements have a similar purpose, but couples sign them after they are married. In fact, some advisors recommend that couples wait and sign a postnup if they are within a month of their wedding day since they may be feeling too much pressure to make a reasonable decision.

Photo radar captured fewer driving offences last year

Some drivers in Alberta have strong opinions about photo-enforced speed zones. Drivers in these zones may receive a citation in the mail courtesy of a speed camera that clicks a photo of a vehicle when it exceeds the posted speed. Photo technology also provides a way for police to penalize those who run red lights. Photo radar creates millions in revenue for municipalities that utilize this passive form of law enforcement. However, as the number of driving offences declines, so does this revenue.

Safety advocates are more focused on the good news that the photo radar sites seem to be doing their jobs. The number of tickets Edmonton law enforcement issued in the last year dropped nearly 27 percent from the number issued just two years ago. This also translates to fewer traffic fatalities. Agents of the Office of Traffic Safety believe drivers have adapted to the radar zones and learned to slow down.

Citizen tips help RCMP in criminal law investigations

Law enforcement relies on the public to provide information to help them solve crimes. This may be especially true in more rural areas where frequent police patrol is not always possible. However, while it is beneficial when citizens play a role in preventing criminal activity and bringing offenders to justice, those accused of crimes should know that eyewitness accounts and descriptions are not always reliable in a court of criminal law.

Police are thanking an Alberta rancher who contacted authorities after seeing suspicious activity at nearby industrial sites. After receiving the tip, RCMP located two men, ages 39 and 27, who were allegedly in possession of a large quantity of copper wire. Investigators determined the wire was stolen from the industrial sites near the ranch.

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