Edmonton Criminal Law and Family Law Blog

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.

Alienation claims complicate family law decisions

Alberta courts have a difficult task when a parent claims domestic abuse. When children are involved, the courts must consider their best interests, even if it means denying the other parent access to the kids. However, parents accused of abuse have one trump card that can send courts of family law into confusion and bring about dangerous custody decisions.

Claims of parental alienation syndrome have been common since the 1980s. One parent is accused of systematically turning the children against the other parent, whether by refusing access to the children or telling the children negative things about the other parent. Psychologists have since refuted the existence of such a syndrome, but some in family law continue to tout the serious damage alienation can do to children. Parents who face the loss of custody or visitation because of charges of domestic abuse can counterclaim parental alienation to muddy the waters.

Changes in DUI driving offences raise concerns

Changes in impaired driving laws in Alberta and across Canada went into effect recently. The new laws increase penalties for those convicted of driving offences related to alcohol or drug impairment. Drivers should be aware of the changes, especially over the New Year's holiday when police may be especially vigilant.

Since impaired driving is a federal offence, someone convicted of DUI likely ends up with a criminal record, and repeat offenders usually face harsher consequences. Under the new laws, a driver who is convicted of a repeat offence has more at risk, including the chance of spending five to 10 years behind bars and being designated as a dangerous offender. There's also a special drug-impairment category now, following the recent legalization of marijuana, which carries a fine up to $1,000.

Gun Safety 101: How To Properly Store Your Firearm

Gun storage is an important part of firearm ownership. There are specific rules set out by the federal Firearms Act and parts of the Criminal Code of Canada. They are in place to keep people safe, and to prevent firearm access to children, minors or unauthorized adults.

At outlined on the Royal Canadian Mounted Police website, there are a few key tips to remember for proper storage safety, relating to both non-restricted, and restricted firearms.

What is an Adult Interdependent Relationship?

Alberta laws no longer use the term "common-law" to describe two people in a domestic relationship, but not married. Instead, the province uses the term "adult interdependent relationship" (AIR) to recognize common-law couples.

But why does this matter? Qualifying as an AIR allows you certain rights you would not get as a common-law couple. While still not equal to married couples, AIR rights do allow you some spousal and property rights depending on the situation.

So how do you qualify? And what makes an AIR different from general common-law relationships?

Remaining Silent: The Canadian Equivalent Of Miranda Rights

You may have heard the phrase "you have the right to remain silent" on television. This statement is part of what is commonly known as Miranda rights, or your legal rights once you have been arrested or detained by police. Miranda rights only apply in the United States.

In Canada, there is no such thing as "Miranda rights". Instead, the rights of all individuals in Canada are outlined in the Canadian Charter Of Rights And Freedoms.

Going To Court: The Life Of A Divorce Proceeding

The average person doesn't generally interact with the law, or lawyers, on a day-to-day basis. When two people want to get divorced, it may be their first experience with the legal system.

Some couples think that they need to bring their case in front of a judge. While television has glamourized the courtroom setting, the truth is that not every case needs to head to a courtroom. How, then, do divorce proceedings work?

Contact With Grandparents: Is It A Legal Right?

Resolving children's issues after a separation or divorce can involve more than determining custody and child support payments. Other relationships, such as those with grandparents, may also be affected.

Currently, there are no laws that dictate whether grandparents should have access to their grandchildren if the parents end the marriage. However, options exist that may help grandparents who want to maintain contact with their grandchildren.

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