Tag Archives: criminal charges

Revenge porn

“My girlfriend shared nude photos of herself with me while we were dating. She broke up with me out of the blue yesterday, and now I want to get back at her. If I post those nude photos to the Internet, could I get in trouble?”

It’s easy to share photos and videos online – and there are so many social media platforms to share them on. However, sharing intimate images of another person without their consent, can land you in trouble with the law.

It doesn’t matter if you took the photos or videos yourself and the person consented at the time. If you share it with others without the subject’s consent when you do so, it’s a crime.

It’s a bad idea

What you’re thinking of doing is known as revenge porn. Most commonly, revenge porn is a way to get back at an ex-partner for leaving a relationship. It’s often done to embarrass or hurt someone and their reputation. But unfortunately, your revenge porn post could give you an unhappy ending.

Dealing with intimate images without consent can land you in big legal trouble! The list of prohibited activities which can see you sent to jail includes publishing, distributing, selling, making available and advertising. If convicted of a revenge porn offence in Canada, the maximum sentence you could receive is five years in prison. Even worse, if you share intimate images of someone under the age of 16, you could also be charged with distribution of child pornography.

If you’re tempted to hit send, hit delete instead

If you have intimate images of someone, the best way to avoid temptation to engage in revenge porn is to delete them from your devices. That way, the images can remain a memory, not end up as evidence used to convict you of serious criminal charges.

When to consult a lawyer

If you have shared intimate images of someone without their consent, you may already be under police investigation. Don’t wait until the police come calling! Protect yourself by calling an experienced criminal lawyer and get legal advice.

Who you gonna call?

I wouldn’t say I was happy when the police called me at 3 a.m., but I was definitely prepared.

One of my clients had been arrested and needed criminal law advice. I was really glad he called me. I was able to give him the advice he needed to protect him – both in the moment and down the road.

Because my client exercised his right to call me, his criminal defence lawyer, it meant he didn’t make his situation any worse. He didn’t talk to the police. I was able to explain to him that even though he thought he’d done nothing wrong, the police investigate when they think there’s been a crime and they gather evidence against the person they think is responsible. They wanted to talk to my client as part of the evidence gathering process. It wasn’t in my client’s best interest to talk to the police and, following my advice, he didn’t.

Another time I like to hear from clients, and new clients in particular, is right after something bad happens, even if the police aren’t yet involved. If it’s something the police are likely to be interested in, you can bet it’s good to have the advice of an experienced criminal defence lawyer, right away. Even at 3 a.m.

Stuff happens. Who you gonna call?

Drug charges: Doda tea poor man’s heroin

Doda tea, also known as poor man’s heroin, is illegal in Canada. It’s derived from the opium poppy and contains substances like morphine, codeine and thebaine. That means it’s prohibited under Schedule 1 of the federal Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, along with the most dangerous other illegal drugs like heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine.

Doda is produced by grinding dried opium poppy husks to create a tea-like substance. It’s consumed like tea, and is popular with users because of its effects. But, like other narcotics, it’s also potentially addictive.

Most people in Canada probably haven’t even heard of doda. Yet, it’s reportedly very popular with many members of the South East Asian community, particularly in Toronto and Vancouver, where users apparently buy it under the counter from certain local shops.

Supply is down, prices are up

So where do the dried opium poppy husks used to make doda tea come from? They have traditionally been imported into Canada from places with favourable growing climates, such as Arizona in the southern United States. However a crackdown by law enforcement in recent years has squeezed supply, which has meant higher prices for the end consumer, and potentially lucrative profits for those who are willing to risk operating along the chain of distribution.

More law enforcement and prosecutions?

Despite all this, there haven’t yet been many prosecutions for doda-related offences in Canada. One reason could be a general lack of awareness within the law enforcement community. But if doda is as dangerous as experts claim, that might change. If it does, there could be more law enforcement and prosecutions for doda-related offences.

Canadian prostitution offences unconstitutional

In December the Supreme Court of Canada released it’s much anticipated decision in Canada (Attorney General) v. Bedford 2013 SCC 72 in which it found three Canadian prostitution offences unconstitutional. The three Criminal Code offences involve keeping  a brothel, pimping and communicating in public about sex for sale. The high court gave the government a year to make changes. It it doesn’t, those activities will no longer be illegal in Canada.

A number of people have asked me if this means prostitution is now legal in Canada. They’ve all been surprised to learn that prostitution – the sale of sex for money – wasn’t an offence before the Bedford case, so the decision hasn’t changed anything in that regard.

The Bedford case actually concerned the prostitution-related offences regarding brothels, pimping and communicating in public about sex for sale. The nine appeal judges unanimously found each of the three offences unconstitutional because they violate a prostitute’s Charter right to security of the person in a way that is contrary to the principles of fundamental justice. The federal government didn’t seriously attempt to justify the violation.

Basically, the court accepted the argument that these provisions put the safety and lives of prostitutes at risk, and are therefore unconstitutional.

The context within which the decision was made is obviously important. Prostitution, although legal, clearly poses significant danger to prostitutes. Indeed, the decision makes several references to the case of notorious serial killer Robert Pickton in support of this seemingly uncontentious proposition.

“Keeping a common bawdy-house”

This is the offence that prohibits keeping a brothel. It was found to prevent a prostitute’s ability to do in-calls – in which clients attend at prostitutes’ residences (regarded by prostitutes as the safest environment within to engage in prostitution); when more dangerous out-calls – in which prostitutes attend at clients’ residences, are permitted.

“Living on the avails of prostitution”

This is the offence that prohibits pimping. It was found to prevent a prostitute’s ability to hire services such as security for out-calls – things like a professional driver (although the decision notes the offence even prevents the hiring of business services such as accounting).

“Communicating in a public place”

This is the offence that prohibits prostitutes and their customers from communicating in a public place about the sale of sex for money. It was found to prevent a prostitute’s ability to screen for “bad dates”.

So what does it all mean?

The court gave the government a year to make changes to the offences. If the government declines to do so, these activities will no longer be criminalized. If it does make changes, it will be interesting to see what form they take.

In the meantime, prostitution remains legal. I don’t anticipate any police or prosecutorial enthusiasm for investigating or laying charges for these offences, and criminal defence lawyers who did a lot of these types of cases will need to consider broadening the scope of their practices.