Some people might mistakenly assume an impaired driving charge is only a minor criminal offence. However, what these people do not realize is the law views this type offence as rather serious. You were behind the wheel of a motorized vehicle and driving while under impairment.

You not only were putting your own life at risk, but also the lives of other pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists on the road. To give you an idea of how serious the law regards impaired driving offences, it is a good idea to review the potential punishments if one is convicted and found guilty of the offence.

According to the Criminal Code of Canada, Section 255(1) is as follows:

Every one who commits an offence under Section 253 or 254 is guilty of an indictable offence or and offence punishable on summary conviction and is liable,

  • Whether the offence is prosecuted by indictment or punishable on summary conviction, to the following minimum punishment, namely,
  • For a first offence, to a fine of not less than $1,000,
  • For a second offence, to imprisonment for not less than 30 days, and
  • For each subsequent offence, to imprisonment for not less than 120 days;
  • Where the offence is prosecuted by indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years; and
  • If the offence is punishable on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term of not more than 18 months.

As evident based upon the Criminal Code, even for a first-time offender, there is a fine of at least $1,000. It is also important to keep in mind, aside from fines and potential imprisonment periods, there are several other consequences of driving under the influence. These could include, but may not be limited to:

  • License Suspension/Revocation
  • Driver Education Courses
  • Increase Insurance Rates
  • Loss of Time from Work
  • License Reinstatement Fees
  • Interlock Device Installation and Monitoring Fees
  • Vehicle Towing and Impound Fees

A conviction for an impaired driving offence is also recorded on your criminal record. This could make it more difficult to travel abroad. Some countries will prohibit you from entering their country even when the only offence on your record is for impaired driving.

Hopefully, now you can see that an impaired driving offence is a serious offence you should be concerned about. Even though you might feel like the prosecution has a solid case against you, this is not always an accurate assessment.

In prior cases, some of my clients’ rights were violated in some manner, so this provided a viable strategy to defend against their charges. In other cases, the clients were not actually impaired due to alcohol or drugs.

For these reasons, it is always in your bests interests to consult with a qualified Toronto criminal defence lawyer to discuss your different options and strategies. Please feel free to contact me, Jeff Hershberg, at 416-428-7360 to arrange a consultation appointment today.


Domestic Assault: What to Do If You Are Charged and Arrested

Domestic assault is a common criminal offence where arguments can escalate and turn physical when involved in a relationship. A person does not have to be legally married to the other to file a complaint of domestic assault. Domestic assault applies to any type of relationship between people, such as brothers and sisters, parents and children, cohabiting couples, and recently dating couples.

While assault laws are meant to help seek justice and protect injured parties, complaints for domestic assault are sometimes misrepresented by the complainant. It is not unheard of where one person will get upset because their loved one did or did not do something they wanted.

They might get into an argument and things could escalate. If one person loses their temper at this point and physically assaults the other, then they have committed a criminal offence. However, if the other person simply walks away, until things cool down they have done nothing wrong.

Unfortunately, this is where the law can sometimes be abused. The other person is still angry and fuming so they call the police filing a complaint of domestic assault. At this point the police are required by law to investigate the claim.

They may self-infect bruises, cuts, scrapes, or other injuries to make it appear like they were assaulted. When the police show up, if it appears as though assault occurred, then they could arrest the suspect. Granted, they will talk to the suspect to hear their side of things, but even after that, if they have doubts, they could still arrest the person.

Upon being arrested and charged for domestic assault, you will be held for a period of time in jail prior to your bail hearing. During your bail hearing, the court will determine if you should be released or held until your case is fully resolved.

The Crown’s lawyers are present to ensure the terms of your bail release are to their satisfaction. In some cases, release will not be granted if the Crown’s lawyers feel the person is a potential threat and may cause further crimes upon release.

After being arrested and charged and prior to your bail hearing, you do have the legal right to consult with your own criminal defence lawyer in Toronto. Having a lawyer present during the bail hearing can make the process easier.

In many cases, the person charged with domestic assault has never had any prior legal issues. This could be the first time they have seen the inside of a jail cell, as well as their first time in criminal court. All of this can be very overwhelming and it can be tempting to just plead guilty to the charges and be done with it.

However, that is never a good idea and you will want to exercise your legal rights to achieve the most favourable outcomes possible. If you, a friend, or family member has been charged with domestic assault, please feel free to contact Toronto criminal defence lawyer, Jeff Hershberg at 416-428-7360 for a consultation today!

Marijuana Drug Laws and Traveling Abroad: What You Need to Know

With the legalization of marijuana in Canada for recreational purposes in process, as well as it being legal in numerous states already in the United States, there are a few things Canadian travelers need to know about marijuana usage when they visit the United States.

The United States Border Patrol has been asking Canadians entering the country whether they have ever used cannabis/marijuana. Some Canadians are answering yes they have in locations where it is legal, like Colorado.

Colorado is a popular destination for many Canadians, not just because they can legally use marijuana, but because of the hiking, mountain climbing, skiing, and other great outdoor activities. Unfortunately, admitting one has used marijuana, even when they have visited states in the U.S. where it is legal, could result in a lifetime ban from the United States.

Once marijuana sales begin for recreational use legally come this summer here in Canada, you could still be banned from entering the United States. If their U.S. border patrol agents inquire about your marijuana usage, and if you answer yes, they can turn you away along with issue a lifetime ban.

Many Canadians travel abroad in the summertime to visit popular locations in the United States, like New York City, Las Vegas, or the major theme parks in Orlando, Florida. The last thing you want is to have your vacation holiday plans ruined because of a simple slip up when answering questions at the U.S. border, let alone the possibility of never being able to enter the U.S. again.

Why Is the U.S. Border Patrol Doing This?

Part of the reason for the U.S. Border Patrol’s questions over marijuana use is because at the U.S. Federal level, marijuana is still considered illegal and a controlled substance. If one admits to using marijuana at the U.S. border, the border patrol agents may infer this implies you will engage in using marijuana while in the United States – a federal crime.

Even more confusing is in states where marijuana is legal for medical and/or recreational use, the states’ laws only apply in that state. While the U.S. Federal Government recognizes the state’s right to legalize the drug for medical and/or recreational use, the U.S. Government still considers the usage of marijuana a drug offence.

If you are planning on traveling abroad to the United States for business, a vacation holiday or other reasons, remember to not risk potentially be banned for life from the U.S. Even when entering states at the Canadian/U.S. border where it is legal for recreational use, like Washington or Maine, you could still be banned for admitting using marijuana.

If you are asked about your marijuana usage at the U.S. border, do not lie to the agent as this can also get you banned for life. Instead, you have the legal right to refuse to answer the question. While this may prevent you from entering the U.S., it is still far better to be denied entry once than risk being banned for life.

If you are facing criminal drug charges here in Toronto, you need an experience Toronto criminal defence lawyer, like Jeff Hershberg. Call 416-428-7360 for a consultation today!

Social Media Can Affect the Outcomes of Criminal Offence Charges

The rise of social media over the past decade has started to influence all types of legal cases, from civil suit and divorces to criminal offence charges. What many people do not realize is social media posts, pictures, and videos are often considered public knowledge because they are being posted on a public forum.

If you have been charged with a criminal offence, there are specific things you need to know about social medial and how it can affect the outcome of your case. It is highly recommended to review the following information.

  • Do not post any details about your charges on social media.

It can be tempting to post updates about your criminal charges. However, this is not in your best interests. If you say something or post something that is questionable or can be taken out of context, you can believe the prosecution will use it against you in any way they can.

If you are out on bail with restrictions, such as a curfew, the last thing you need is for pictures of your ending up your social media pages showing you out with friends. Even if you don’t personally post the pictures, simply being tagged in them could be grounds for the prosecution to submit a bail condition violation to the court.

  • Do not post derogatory comments about the police, prosecution, or judge.

Saying negative and derogatory things about the police, prosecuting attorney or judge hearing your case is never good. Not only could these things be used against you, it could alter the opinion of these legal professionals and give them even more reason to work harder to prove your guilt.

  • Do stop using social media until your case is fully resolved.

The best legal advice you could follow is to stop using social media. If you avoid using social media, then you can avoid any risks of hurting your case. If you are finding it difficult to stay off social media, consider deleting the apps from your devices, but DO NOT delete your accounts.

  • Do not delete your social media accounts or posts.

If you start deleting your social media accounts or posts, it can make the prosecution believe you are attempting to hide something. They can subpoena the owner of the social media site for your account records and history. Even though you deleted the account or posts, the social media site owner has backups.

  • Let your Toronto criminal defence lawyer know about any questionable posts.

If you have posts that could be questionable and potentially related to your charges, you need to let your criminal defence lawyer know about these right away. The last thing they need is to be caught off guard during a court hearing or your trial.

As you can see, social media use while dealing with criminal charges could affect the outcome. If you have been charged with a criminal offence and want expert legal advice, please feel free to contact Jeff Hershberg at 416-428-7360 today to schedule a free case consultation!

Drug Recognition Evaluators and Drug Evaluations: What You Need to Know

If you are stopped by the police and the officer suspects you are driving under the influence of drugs, you could be required to submit to a drug evaluation by a drug recognition evaluator (DRE). Typically, the officer will transport you to the regional police department will you will be evaluated and interviewed by the DRE.

The DRE is trained to look for signs of impairment from drug usage covering various drug categories including:

  • Marijuana
  • Inhalants
  • Narcotics
  • Depressants
  • Hallucinogens
  • Stimulants
  • Anesthetics

The DRE will conduct various tests on the suspect to determine whether drugs are causing their impairment. Unfortunately even with training, DREs can and do make mistakes. They could easily overlook suspected impairment being caused by other conditions, such as illnesses, mental conditions, fatigue, and so on.

History of DREs

DREs were originally created by the Los Angeles Police Department in the United States in the 1970s.1 The Los Angeles police were encountering suspects that appeared impaired but were not under the influence of alcohol. However, the police suspected these drivers were impaired by drugs, but had no method to test for drug impairment.

Eventually, as the use of DREs spread throughout the states, they made their way to Canada. The first DREs in Canada began in October 1995 in British Columbia.2From there, they slowly spread across all provinces.

DREs and the Law

With changes to driving under the influence laws in 2008, the use of DREs has become more standardized by many police agencies across the country. These changes made it mandatory for a driver to submit to a drug evaluation when one was demanded by an officer of the law.

If you refuse, or initially agree to a drug evaluation, but later refuse upon reaching the police station, then you could still be charged with a “refusal to provide a sample” offence.This type of offence carriers with it the same penalties as an impaired driving offence if you are convicted and found guilty.

However, the drug evaluation tests the DRE performs can be rather complex. It some cases the DRE has to use their own personal judgements to decide whether a driver is impaired by drugs. If they assume the driver is, but fail to perform any actual drug screening tests, one could mistakenly be charged with impaired driving while under the influence of drugs.

It is for these reasons, you should never assume you do not have any options. Even if drug screening was performed, there could be other defences that could be used to fight the charges. For instance, you were not informed of your legal rights by the police officer.

If you or someone you care about has been charged with driving under the influence of drug, you need to speak to Toronto criminal defence lawyer, Jeff Hershberg immediately. Call 416-428-7360 now for a free consultation!