Charged with Sexual Assault...Now What?

With the uprise of the #metoo movement and an increase in allegations of sexual assault consistently spotlighted in the media, it is important to discuss what the legal definition of sexual assault means within the context of the Canadian legal landscape.

What does it really mean?

The legal concept of sexual assault can be convoluted and difficult to understand. It isn’t always clear cut. Often, it boils down to an issue of “he said, she said” and credibility is a factor. Being charged with sexual assault is serious, and can be scary, but is isn’t hopeless.

In this blog post, written by articled student Puneet Klar, readers will learn what consent means within the context of our criminal justice system and what happens following an arrest for sexual assault. They will also learn how our lawyers approach sexual assault cases and what we can do to help.

If you have questions about sexual assault, or if you have been charged, read on to learn more.

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Sarah Leamon
"Spirits of the Law" - Episode Three - Herb & Other Natural Botanticals

In a very special 4/20 episode of Spirits of the Law, Sarah and Matthew are joined by Andrew Forshner, Development Director of the Vancouver Writers Festival to talk about toking during special events in British Columbia, why our liquor laws are still stuck in the Dust Bowl era while most of society just wants to move on to the punch bowl. They also review two BC Spirits from Tofino Distilling, their Natural Botanicals selection.

Listen to the full episode here.

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Sarah Leamon
A New Roadside Drug Testing Device May Be Coming To A Road Near You. Heres What You Need to Know.

he federal government has announced its intention to approve another roadside drug screening device. 

The Abbott SoToxa is currently under a 30-day public consultation period.  It could be approved for use by police as early as May 19, 2019.  If it is, it will join the Draeger DrugTest 5000 as one of only two federally approved drug screening devices in Canada. 

 But what do we know about the Abbott SoToxa?

The short answer is not much…yet.

 What we do know about it, though, is that it has been largely touted as a better device than the Draeger DrugTest 500, which received a relatively frosty reception from police agencies across the country when it was introduced last August. 

 But how will they stack up? 

 Here are six things you need to know. 

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Sarah Leamon
I Have A Cannabis Conviction...Now That It's Legal, How Can I Clear My Record?

If you have an old conviction for cannabis possession in Canada, hope for clearing your criminal record is on the horizon. The opportunity to clear your criminal record could come as early as 2019.

The federal government is working on expediting the pardon process for criminal offences that occurred during the prohibition era. Pardons would strike the conviction from their Criminal Record.

In this blog post, Matthew Naylor writes to answer your burning questions about cannabis conviction, pardons and expungements. Read on to learn more about bill c-93, new legislation and what else needs to be done in order to right historical cannabis wrongs.

At Sarah Leamon Law Group, we know how detrimental a criminal record can be. We work on behalf of our clients to keep updated on the latest legal developments and to pass important information on to you. If you have a cannabis conviction, we can help.

Don’t hesitate to call.

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Sarah Leamon
Online Hate Speech Is On the Rise...But Is There Anything We Can Do About It?

When it comes to the Internet, people often post without pondering; but you may want to think twice about airing certain sentiments online as they could attract criminal prosecution. 

There are three specific circumstances under which police may lay charges pertaining to hate speech. 

The first deals with situations wherein a person either advocates or promotes genocide. This offence is considered to be a very serious one and carries a maximum penalty of five years in jail.

The other two offences are more common and deal with publicly inciting or promoting hatred. If a person is convicted of committing either of these crimes against an identifiable group, they will face a maximum penalty of two years in jail.

The stakes are high, and the message is clear—hate speech is despicable and will not be tolerated in this country.

So why is online hate speech on the rise? And what can we do to help curb it in the future?

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Sarah Leamon
"Spirits of the Law" - Episode Two - Whiskey Flights & New Bites

Wet your whistle with a tasting flight of British Columbia’s finest (or not so finest) whiskies, care of the Vancouver’s Writers Festival, and whet your appetite for information with an array of legal news from across Canada and around the world.

Matthew and Sarah cover the near-nationwide ban on the commercial sale of hunted meat, the fun reasons you might want to read every single word of your contract, improved archeological protections in B.C., the right to repair electronic devices, the seal hunt and B.C.’s still terrible liquor laws.

Featured whiskies include selections from Shelter Point, Lohin McKinnon, Goodridge & WIlliams, Okanagan Spirits, De Vine Vineyards and Legend Distilling.

Listen here.

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Sarah Leamon
Canadas Tough New Impaired Driving Laws Put Innocent Cannabis Users at Risk

A number of tough new cannabis-impaired driving laws kicked into effect only a few months ago, and already, some Canadians are feeling the burn.

Nova Scotia motorist, Michelle Gray, has been making headlines over the past week thanks to her debacle, which occurred after she identified herself as a medical cannabis patient during a routine road check. 

Although Gray was arrested and investigated for impaired driving in relation to cannabis use, she was not ultimately found not to be impaired - but only after going through an invasive and time-consuming examination process. She was also given a driving prohibition and vehicle impoundment, even though she had not done anything wrong.

If you think this is unfair, you aren’t alone.

Gray plans on launching a constitutional challenge to the legislation that allowed her situation to transpire, but getting a result will take time, which is cold comfort for those who could be at risk today. 

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Sarah Leamon
Right to Repair Legislation is a Triple Win for Canadians

Canada is one step-closer to enacting legislation that will make it easier and cheaper to repair broken phones. 

An Ontario Liberal MPP is seeking to amend Ontario’s Consumer Protection Act to include the right to repair. This represents the first time that right to repair legislation has ever been contemplated in Canada. 

Right to repair legislation makes repairing smart devices more accessible to ordinary consumers, through minimizing the financial cost associated with repairs and the free sharing of repair-related information. 

The bill would force brands to provide consumers and electronic repair shops with replacement parts, software, and tools for a fair price and to provide electronic documents—like repair manuals—for free. These steps would help make repairs more cost effective, thereby reducing environmental waste and ultimately benefiting the greater community.


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Sarah Leamon
Introducing "Spirits of the Law" - A Podcast by Sarah Leamon Law Group

Sarah Leamon Law Group presents “Spirits of the Law”, a podcast about all things legal…and alcoholic in content.

On “SNC-Lagavulin”, the first episode of “Spirits of the Law”, lawyer Sarah Leamon is joined by Matthew Naylor and Ian Bushfield to discuss differing tastes in scotch and a variety of opinions on the developing SNC-Lavalin scandal.

Tune into this aptly named episode to learn more about the affair rocking the Trudeau government, and to find out who will reign supreme in yet another skirmish between 100 year old rivals Lagavulin and Laphroaig.

Listen here.

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Sarah Leamon
Canadians Need to Seriously Rethink the Role of the Justice Minister

The SNC-Lavalin scandal has exposed much more than just a few cracks in our federal Liberal party; it has rocked some of our most basic assumptions about our parliamentary structure and has left many of us asking what, if any, role the Minister of Justice should continue to serve in this country.

In her testimony before the House Justice Committee last week, the former Minister of Justice delivered one bombshell after another.   

But what does it all mean? Will shuffling the cabinet, electing a new government or throwing the Prime Minister out of office help matters?

Chances are no. Instead, structural change needs to happen. Otherwise, the independence of the Attorney General will be nothing more than a political mirage.

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Sarah Leamon
Three Helpful Tips to Keep Children Safe Around Cannabis

A mother in Brandon, Manitoba, is speaking out about a scary ordeal that unfolded in her household after her two young children accessed a hidden stash of cannabis-infused edibles.    

Only time will tell whether or not the mother in this case will face charges; and although her alarming experience may be long from over, we can still learn a valuable lesson from it today.

With the recent legalization of cannabis, we can expect it to become an increasingly regular and normalized household item. And, although the government is putting safety considerations at the forefront of developing rules that will govern the production, sale, and promotion of edibles, topicals, and concentrates, it will be almost impossible to eliminate the risk to minors altogether. 

The question, therefore, boils down to what parents should do to properly protect their children from accidental exposure to cannabis and cannabis products.

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Sarah Leamon
Controversy Over a Convicted Killer at the Calgary City Teacher's Convention

A gathering of teachers doesn’t normally sound like the kind of event that would attract a great deal of controversy, but the 2019 Calgary City Teachers' Convention is raising some serious eyebrows…and for good reason.

Andrew Evans, who is identified as “Andy” and as a representative of the Alberta Adolescent Recovery Centrewas going to deliver a speech on adolescent addiction.  This all sounds fine, except for one thing…Evans is a convicted killer.

In 2007, Evans brutally beat, strangled, and murdered Nicole Parisien in Vancouver.  After he killed her, he attempted to hide her body in some nearby bushes before fleeing to Calgary. Parisien was thirty-three years old. She had been working as a sex worker.

And although a criminal conviction should not forever rob a person of their voice or preclude them from contributing to their communities, the organizers' decision to choose this speaker, at this time, on this topic—without transparency—is problematic. to say the least.  

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Sarah Leamon
Courage, Healing & Why the Humboldt Guilty Pleas are Important

On January 8, 2019, Jaskirat Singh Sidhu was convicted on 16 counts of dangerous driving causing death and 13 counts of dangerous driving causing bodily harm in connection with the horrific accident that claimed the lives of so many young men, one woman, and fundamentally altered countless others forever. 

It is safe to say that Sidhu, who was fortunate to walk away from the scene more or less unscathed, will not be fortunate enough to walk away from a lengthy prison sentence. A single indictable count of dangerous driving causing death carries a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment, while dangerous driving causing bodily harm can land a person behind bars for a decade. 

By entering pleas, Sidhu is sparing himself, the community and his victims from the pain of enduring a trial.

But why is his decision to plead guilty so radical? And how can we learn from his radical decision to unwaveringly accept responsibility in the face of severe consequences?

Read more to find out.

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Sarah Leamon
Answers To The Top Five Questions About Canada's New Impaired Driving Laws

On December 18, impaired-driving laws in this country underwent a massive overhaul. Police officers are now able to conduct roadside, warrantless searches to compel drivers to provide a breath sample…and they don’t need to form any grounds in order to do so. 

Understandably, this has left a lot of people confused and looking for answers. 

In this column, I will attempt to answer the five most commonly asked questions about changes to Canada’s impaired driving laws: (1) How has the law changed?, (2) Why has this happened?, (3) Does this mean that it is now zero tolerance for alcohol and driving?, (4) Can I refuse to provide a breath sample?, and (5) What can I do to protect myself?

Read on to learn the answers to some of your most sobering questions about alcohol and impaired driving!

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Sarah Leamon
The New Rules for Cannabis Edibles and Concentrates Are Restrictive & Problematic

After months of uncertainty, the federal government has unveiled official proposals to legalize cannabis edibles. 

 The much-awaited scheme was released on December 22, 2018, following extensive research and community consultation - and while it is reasonably in line with what many industry insiders had anticipated, there are still a number of wrinkles to iron out.

Aside from simply setting THC limits per product, they will also establish how products should be packaged and labeled, and what types of additives may be used.  Regulations on what will be possible will be strict and many adopt a paternalistic approach to cannabis that is not likely to go over well with producers and consumers alike.

But as more consumers than ever reaching for edibles, and the market for such products expected to reach $5.3 billion by 2020, the government would be well advised to revisit their approach and adjust the rules sooner, rather than later. 

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Sarah Leamon
Ending Human Trafficking in Canada and the Continued Debate Around the Morality of Sex Work

Earlier this month, the Commons committee on justice and human rights released a report on human trafficking. The document, Moving Forward in the Fight Against Human Trafficking in Canada, was created after several months of community consultation. The objective is reducing—and ultimately ending—human trafficking in Canada. 

With 17 recommendations, the report hopes to provide salient solutions to the ongoing issue of human trafficking. 

The report also distinguished between human trafficking and consensual, adult sex work. In doing so, it created an important divide between these two issues.

However, it did not go far enough in addressing the harms perpetrated against sex workers by bad laws and how eliminating them could also work towards the ultimate goal of stopping human traffickers.

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Sarah Leamon
Coming This Holiday Season - Random, Roadside Breath Testing!

This holiday season, police will be armed with a new law to detect impaired drivers.

Starting on December 18, 2018, officers throughout Canada will be able to enforce random, mandatory roadside breath tests for drivers at their discretion. 

Right now, police officers’ in British Columbia use the Alco-Sensor FST to test for alcohol on the roadside.  In order to administer the test on the roadside, they need to form the grounds to do so. Technically speaking, they need to have reasonable grounds to suspect that the person has alcohol in their body.

The reasonable suspicion requirement is functional on a legal level.  It is in place for a purpose.  That purpose is to ensure that Charter-protected rights and individual liberties are not improperly eroded. 

But on December 18, 2018, this requirement will be done away with and what was once well-established criminal law will become muddied and unclear.

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Sarah Leamon
Dude, Where's My Weed? A Brief Examination of Cannabis Shortages Post-Legalization

On October 17, 2018, cannabis was legalized in Canada and the long-standing prohibition against this controversial and powerful plant was officially over…at least on paper. 

The legalization of cannabis has not come without it’s challenges. 

Perhaps the most immediate - and frustrating - challenge for consumers came in the form of supply shortages. 

By all accounts, it looked like the whole country was jumping on the cannabis band-wagon and going up in smoke…but this was not quite the case. The truth of the matter is that government supplies of cannabis were grossly inadequate to meet a relatively modest consumer demand. 

As rumours about continued shortages swirl and other countries toy with legalizing cannabis, some have speculated that Canada may already be falling behind in this new and emerging industry. 

So what are we to do?

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Sarah Leamon
Now That Cannabis Is Legal, How Can British Columbians Legally Transport It In Their Cars?

By now, we should all know that driving a motor vehicle with cannabis in your body could result in harsh legal penalties.  But what about driving with cannabis in your car?

Now that cannabis is legal, adults are able to carry up to 30 grams of cannabis or its equivalent in public places.  However, when it comes to your motor vehicle, there are a number of restrictions about how that should be done in order to properly comply with the law. 

Simply having cannabis in your vehicle can constitute an offence.

Here in British Columbia, the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act makes it a ticket-able offence to simply have cannabis in your vehicle, regardless of whether you are consuming it or not. 

Read on to learn the three golden rules in order to (hopefully) avoid a ticket.

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Sarah Leamon
The Government Will Pardon Some Non-Violent Cannabis Offenders...But Is It Enough?

Now that cannabis is legal, where does it leave Canadians with criminal records for past pot convictions?

Early on the morning of legalization, October 17, 2018, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale held a press conference to answer that very question. 

In his address, Goodale confirmed that the Liberal government will introduce legislation to allow Canadians who have received criminal sentences in relation to cannabis possession to apply for a pardon.  He also confirmed that they will not have to pay a fee or wait for a specified time period following their conviction. 

So why are some people saying that the Liberals are missing the mark?

 The controversy lies in technical legal terminology; namely, the difference between a pardon and an expungement. 

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Sarah Leamon