Including Criminal Code, Highway Traffic, Income Tax, and Regulatory Offences

Lisa's Legal Newsletters - Join my subscription list for free

I have been publishing newsletters, on mostly criminal law topics, for well over a decade. These contain original content and are sent directly to subscribers. The content is sometimes published to my legal blog, but more often not. Even when the newsletters inspire blog articles, the newsletter is the 'Director's Cut'. Just a bit edgier. Recent topics have included:

Applying for Jobs with a Criminal Record

Arrested and in Custody – Tips if it's You

My Favourite Disclaimers

Private Prosecutions – DYI You are the Prosecutor!

Being Questioned by the Police

Common Pitfalls when Representing Yourself

Drafting a Legal Letter

Squeeze Seven things from a Legal Consultation


Here are some comments I have received from long-time subscribers:

Can You be Forced to be a Criminal?

People who commit offences often say they felt pressured to do so by someone else. In considering whether they should be excused from committing crimes because of duress, the laws attempt to strike a balance between the conflicting interests of the accused not to be punished for something they did involuntarily, and the interests of victims and society.

Protesters' Rights and Risks in Canada - excerpts from Lisa's special edition newsletter

Protesters' Rights and Risks is a special edition newsletter, excerpts of which are published here. For the full version, please contact me directly at 613.203.4874.

Nothing in this article should be relied upon as legal advice or information - the article is for general interest only and you must contact me directly for law that applies to your case.

The question is not so much what are protesters' rights as:

  • what do police consider protesters' rights to be, or even,
  • what do police consider their own rights to be, or importantly,
  • will the police view the protest as 'unlawful assembly' or as a 'riot', both of which are defined in the Criminal Code of Canada.

Within those contexts, let's look at some fundamental issues that can arise during protests. I'll relay the laws in a general way; the terms demonstration and protest are used interchangeably.

The Basics - Christian Law Offices, Ottawa

I help clients who may be facing criminal, driving and tax offences or who may be under investigation by police, CRA, or other agencies. I will defend you against government prosecution; negotiate with the police and crown attorneys to avoid, reduce or withdraw charges; and provide you with legal advice and strategy through consultation.

CONSULTATION SERVICES

Telephone meetings are available, in addition to in-person meetings. Tell me the facts and your impressions of your situation. I will explain how the law applies, provide you with my recommendations, and suggest next steps. You can opt for my same-day Express Consultation Service for urgent matters.

Humiliation and the Criminal Law

If you are seeing me because you have been charged with an offence, chances are you have never before been detained by police, nor arrested, nor held in a jail cell, nor fingerprinted. You probably don't want to talk about the experience – who would?

Litigation vs Mediation

Going to trial is a form of litigation, and it is a notion currently out of favour with most other lawyers. This is because it is undoubtedly expensive, has a long time-line, the results are unpredictable, and it is usually a traumatic experience for the client. Other forms of ending a case, such as mediation in the early stages, are encouraged or even obligatory. On the other hand, going to trial has some real advantages.

Hearsay Evidence

Your chances of winning your case depend on the relevant facts. Not the real life facts but rather the facts that would be admissible evidence in a trial. Hearsay evidence may be inadmissible. A trial often includes complex legal arguments about whether hearsay evidence should be admitted.

Hearsay evidence can be described as written or oral statements, or even other communicative conduct, made by someone outside of the court proceeding – if it is used to establish the truth of the contents of the statement. It is presumed to be inadmissible because its reliability cannot be challenged through cross-examination. After all, the maker of the statement is not there to testify in court. Essentially, it is gossip.

Common Pitfalls When Representing Yourself

So you have decided to prepare your own case before a court or tribunal. Avoid these common mistakes made by people who self-represent, keeping in mind that this general information may not apply to your situation:

Settlement Privilege

When a court action is under way, or anticipated, you will likely try to settle the case with the opposing party. But how to do that without potentially hurting your case if negotiations fail? By relying on 'settlement privilege'. Some communications made during settlement negotiations may not be used in the trial that will follow if the settlement efforts fail. The idea is to encourage your likelihood of settling the case.

Eight Ways to Win a Criminal Case

Most clients facing a criminal trial might win, even if they 'did it'. For example, I have won cases for clients, which initially seemed hopeless, through all of the ways below.

Cannabis (and other) Record Suspensions

New laws have made it easier and cheaper to get a record suspension if you have a conviction for simple possession of cannabis, though not many people have taken advantage of that. 

This article talks about some things you should know about record suspensions, whether for cannabis or other types of convictions. Be aware that the law changes frequently, and may have changed by the time you read this. For a current and accurate statement of the law, or for representation, please book an appointment with me.   

Record Suspension or Pardon?

A record suspension used to be called a pardon. Neither name is accurate. Your criminal record remains but is set apart from other criminal records in the Canadian Police Information Centre database. Your record suspension can be revoked or considered invalid for a variety of reasons.

Refusing to Play Along with the Income Tax Act

There is an adamant element of society who object to paying taxes or otherwise being governed by Canadian laws. They have been bringing all nature of court actions for many years, are usually self-represented, and place a huge burden on judges and the court system.

The Ontario Court of Appeal released a decision dismissing one such court action. Judges used to write long decisions carefully analyzing the novel ideas raised in these actions. Their decisions are now shorter and make the point that there is simply no legal merit in the ideas raised.

In this recent decision, the self-represented Applicants, in typical fashion for self-representing persons, failed to follow the proper legal procedures. That alone causes havoc in the legal system and, given that approximately fifty per cent of persons going through the courts are self-represented in all types of cases, this is a continuing and serious problem. Understanding the process is a big part of the value I bring as a lawyer.

Arrested and in Custody - Tips if it's You

It could happen – you could be arrested and held in custody at a police station, waiting for release. You should call a lawyer, and that is your right. That way, you will get immediate legal advice tailored to your situation – at least as far as that is possible in a very brief phone call.

In general, the tips below could apply. Remember though that they might not apply to your particular situation.

Defamation

Defamation is a legal concept that is broad and expanding. The laws are found in provincial and federal legislation, and in judge-made case law from Small Claims Court all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada. Communications through never-ending new forms of technology are not adequately dealt with, or even dealt with at all, through legislation that was drafted in an earlier era. Technology also brings with it jurisdictional issues such as - where did the offence occur when it was sent over the internet?

Short Term Rental Offences

Running a short term rental and finding yourself in hot water? You may have thought that since you complied with local bylaws concerning short term rentals, you were operating legally. However, it is possible, and even common, to be in compliance with one law, only to be breaking another.

Taxes and Criminal Law

I deal with tax questions from distraught people. Their upset is understandable. There are endless ways you or your accountant can mess up your taxes, even despite best efforts.

Consider this:

  • The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has enormous investigative powers.
  • The CRA has a huge prosecution budget that is sometimes spent without regard to proportionality.
  • The CRA is vested with highly effective enforcement procedures.
  • Scammers very successfully exploit the existing distrust and fear many citizens have towards our tax system. Maybe you know what I'm talking about.

Something special about my legal practise is that I combine criminal law defense work with tax law. If you are facing an investigation or charges under the Income Tax Act, or think you might be, I can help you.

Below are some common tax issues that can affect everyone - Tax Avoidance, and Audits.

Canadian Legal Terminology

*this article was updated October 4, 2020, and is not legal advice

Legal jargon used in Canada for persons going through the criminal justice system includes the following.

When Family Matters Become Criminal

Many people ask me for help with their family law matters, even though my expertise is in criminal law and investigations. Relationship breakdown can quickly turn into the type of case I take on. Your breakdown may lead to investigations and even charges against you.

Private Victim/Witness Assistance Program in Ottawa

*this article was updated October 4, 2020
 
I defend people who are charged with offences. I also represent victims and witnesses who want someone with my background (you can read my bio by clicking here) on their side. Like my defence representation, this is a private service - it is not associated with government at all. I offer it as an alternative to, or in addition to, the various government or government-funded agencies that provide similar services. My program is different in these respects: 
 
1. No conflict of interest.
You may feel that your interests are in opposition to government or government-funded agencies. Since I am a private lawyer whom you retain (hire) directly, there is no conflict of interest.

2. Solicitor-client privilege to discuss evidence.
Whereas some other agencies or organizations have a policy to not discuss the evidence of your case, we will discuss it in detail if you like. We can do that because our discussions are solicitor-client privileged.

How Mediation Applies to Criminal Law

Mediation is most often seen in civil cases, such as family law. The common practise in criminal law is to hold pre-trial settlement discussions between defense counsel and the prosecutor, sometimes with the input of a judge. Neither the accused nor the alleged victim(s) are present.

Being Thrown Out

People often express to me their mortification and indignation at having been barred or banished or told to leave from somewhere by another person. It was prompted by their behaviour that was not criminal, but broke someone's rules or boundaries in a work, residential, domestic, or leisure setting. Being figuratively tossed is just a normal part of societal friction. Nonetheless, being told to leave can be an emotional event – sometimes for both the one asking and for the one asked. It may result in assaultive or threatening behaviour on either or both sides. Criminal charges or civil actions may follow – again, on either or both sides.

Four Essentials to Consider When Charged with an Offence

1. Do you know all the ramifications to pleading guilty? They may include jail, a license suspension, a criminal record, and much more. Don't be caught by surprise on sentencing day, as are many self-represented people.

Representation by Ottawa lawyer Lisa Christian - Sample Cases

If you are not sure if your matter is something with which I could help you, please feel free to call me to discuss it (no legal fees for this chat). I work in many areas of the law; typical cases I handle include:

Breaking the Law in Canada

Breaking the law - you may be doing it right now. There are a number of reasons for this, most of which are out of your control. Allow me to explain.

There are too many laws for one person to know about. That is why lawyers specialize. I focus on criminal, driving, and tax offences, though I'll also help with other matters if appropriate.

Even if you know the laws, they are open for interpretation. Yours might not match that of the prosecuting authorities. You can protect yourself as much as possible by relying on a legal opinion.

Taxation Issues - Private Legal Advice

Unlawful Tax Avoidance, Audits, and the Canada Revenue Agency

This popular article has been merged with an article called Taxes and Criminal Law, and can be found by

Checklist: Do You Need a Lawyer?

1. Your head is spinning just thinking about the problem. You can't get an intellectual grasp on it. When this happens, it is usually because you are missing some underlying premise about your situation. I can explain to you what is missing, and then you will be clearer about the problem before making decisions on next steps.

2. Your stomach feels queasy when you think of the problem. This is your intuition speaking to you.

3. You ask your friends and family for their opinions, and the opinions are varied; really not helpful.

Seniors with Criminal Law Problems in Ottawa

My criminal law practise frequently involves older people as clients. As we age, we may have special challenges that can land us in hot water with the law. This applies even to people who have so far lived long lives without attracting any criminal record.

Are You in Ottawa Criminal Court or Under Investigation?

If you are charged or under investigation by the government or police, you may be having some of the thoughts below. You can speak to me about your worries, and I'll let you know which of these anxieties are justified, and what I can do to get you the best possible result for your situation.

Worried about how charges will effect your family law situation, regarding child custody or support payments? I am knowledgeable in the area of family law, especially where it intersects with criminal law.

Consultation Process for Criminal (and other) Cases

* this article was updated October 1, 2020

The Client Kit

 
If you are considering booking a consultation, or know someone who is, please feel free to call me to request this free 6-page PDF Client Kit.
 
The Client Kit was created by me. Clients appreciate how useful and informative it is, especially since having legal problems can be a stressful and confusing time for them. Many people have never dealt with a lawyer before except perhaps for day-to-day matters. And each lawyer works differently.
 
The Client Kit contains:
  • useful tips for working together;
  • explanations of confidentiality and solicitor-client privilege;
  • a worksheet of seven questions you can consider to help you focus before the consultation;
  • a handy consultation checklist so you can follow along as the consultation progresses;
  • a note-taking guide for you so you are prepared for, and have good notes from, our consultation 
 

What to Expect from the Consultation

 
When you book a consultation I may ask you to send me documents prior to the appointment, such as a paper you may have received from the police or court telling you of your criminal charge and next court date. Or previous correspondence you may have had with the federal authorities regarding your legal matter. Or relevant emails to which you have access. I'll let you know what to consider giving me in advance if you are comfortable doing so, or to bring to the consultation.

At our meeting, whether by phone or in person, I will help you define your legal problem, explain the relevant procedures, offer solutions, and describe further steps you could decide to take.

Did you know?

Witnesses in Ottawa Criminal Courts

Each individual is unique. As a result, the usual indicators of a witness' credibility cannot always be relied upon by lawyers and judges.

Possible behaviours of individual witnesses can include the following:

Referrals to Lisa Christian, Ottawa Lawyer

*this article was updated October 5, 2020

It can be awkward suggesting that your friend, family member, customer, patient, or client seek the help of a lawyer, especially if their legal issue involves criminal charges or a police investigation. But sometimes it is the right thing to do, and you will have the comfort of knowing that their legal matter will be appropriately addressed.

Making the Referral

If you know someone who could benefit from my services, this article will make it easy for you to refer them to me. Simply copy the link to this article from the address bar above, and paste it in an email to them.

Being Referred

1. All of our communications are solicitor/client privileged, from the first phone call or email. No one outside of my firm will know you even contacted me, unless you authorise me to tell them.

2. There are no fees for the first contact with me. If we agree that there is a good fit between us and we are going forward, I will give you a fee quote for legal advice or information. Payment plans are offered for on-going services.

3. I will handle your case personally.