The legal scene in Canada is constantly shifting and changing. Even if you think you knew all you need to know about domestic violence in 2018, subtle changes to the laws can catch you by surprise in 2019. Several new laws and increases in severity for certain crimes took effect at the start of 2019. While you need a lawyer to help guide you through all the subtleties of the legal system, here’s a quick rundown of some changes in 2019.
Beginning at the start of 2019, Ontario authorities cracked down hard on distracted driving. This crime now includes not only cell phone usage while driving, but also prevents you from using a GPS or other electronic device, or even from eating while behind the wheel. The new distracted driving guidelines were part of a larger bill regulating the use of cannabis on Ontario roadways. A first-time offence can now lead to a three-day suspension of your licence, while future offences can lead to a 30 day suspension and a $3,000 fine. It’s important to note that these penalties cannot be assessed during a traffic stop—no officer can take your licence from you. Hiring a distracted driving lawyer is essential to keeping your licence after such a charge.
The punishment for domestic violence in Ontario has remained largely the same in recent years, but courts continually work to clarify what exactly makes a crime domestic in nature. In today’s legal system, a domestic crime includes not only spouse to spouse abuse but also any sort of abuse to a family member, common law spouse, or boyfriend/girlfriend. The definition of abuse has always included physical violence but now also encompasses stalking, threats, and verbal or psychological abuse. Punishment often includes jail time, and charges almost never get withdrawn on the first day of court due to obligations to give domestic violence cases a full review. This means that somebody who does not have a good defence could face a lengthy jail sentence for a domestic violence charge.
Ontario’s attempts to curb sexual assault include providing more funding to victim service programs throughout the province in 2019 and 2020, as well as ensuring that those found guilty of sexual assault face lengthy jail sentences. The typical punishment for sexual assault ranges from years in prison to life behind bars. Sexual assault includes not only rape but also any unwanted sexual contact, including groping, forcing coworkers to perform sexual acts through a quid pro quo arrangement, and more. An experience defence lawyer not only provides invaluable aid in court but also helps to clarify what exactly counts as sexual assault to somebody who may not know.
Ontario laws and the province’s punishment for crimes is always changing and evolving. Even if you think you know the legal implications of a charge, you need a lawyer to help defend you. A good lawyer not only represents you well in court but can also educate you on matters of law in your area.
Mass Tsang LLP
1810 Avenue Road, Suite 200