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Avtar Bhangal
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Avtar Bhangal is a Brampton & Mississauga Criminal Lawyer serving the Peel Region since 1994
Avtar Bhangal is a Brampton & Mississauga Criminal Lawyer serving the Peel Region since 1994

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Peel Region's community addiction problem mirrors Punjab Drug Abuse






It is a rustic drug, made from crushing dried poppy pods, the power is then dissolved in water or steeped in tea for a quick high. They are called Doda, in Punjabi, it has become the gateway drug to harder narcotics like heroine and cocaine. For a short period of time, there was confusion as to whether doda was legal. It was openly available at meat stores and became the drug of choice for many in the community, especially those in the trucking industry.


It's also a habit that mirrors the spike in drug abuse in Punjab. The drug trade has seen a spike in Indo-Canadian gangs in BC trafficking the drug. There are even dial-for-dope hotlines. Users call the number of a dealer and wait at a predetermined street corner for delivery.

When doda became well known as being illegal; they vanished from the store shelves. Some addicts turned to an alternate source of getting a high, heroin. With the increased use of heroin we are seeing increase in Criminal offences. Everything from assaults, thefts and mischief and even murder. Addiction issues are being addressed by a number of community based organizations, such as the Punjabi Community Health Services. More resources are needed from the government to combat the problem. Including increased awareness of the dangers of heroin use and treatment plans such as Methadone Treatment Programs. As a Criminal Defence lawyer in Mississauga, I rarely saw cases in the Punjabi Community involving harsh drugs, such as heroin. However, now it is the most popular drug amongst the 30 plus age group. It is destroying families and causing a major problem in the community.
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Partial Internet Ban on Sexual Offenders

Supreme Court of Canada considered whether they could go back to old cases and prohibit sexual offenders from using the internet. The issue that came into question was whether this new law can apply to old cases. With technology advancing and having multiple social media websites and apps , the change was much needed to protect children from being lured by sexual predators

The Supreme Court ruled 7 to 2 in calling for the ban on the internet and to be applied retroactively. In some previous sexual offender cases the sentencing has not included banning internet usage. This penalty was added into Safe Streets And Communities Act which came into effect in 2012, and was also applied to a man's appeal case. The Supreme Court of Canada stated the new law on internet prohibition constitutes a reasonable limit on the man's charter of rights.

Note: In the Brampton and Mississauga Courts on more recent cases, the courts will routinely place restrictions on individuals convicted of Sexual Assaults involving young children or Internet Crimes. This case was dealing with the retrospective application of these conditions to old cases.
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OTTAWA – The Supreme Court of Canada has struck down two federal laws from the previous Conservative government’s tough-on-crime agenda, ruling both to be unconstitutional.


The decisions mean an end to rules for minimum sentences for specific drug crime convictions and limits on credit for pre-trial detention in certain conditions where bail is denied, giving trial judges more leeway in how they deal with offenders.


In both decisions, the top court said Parliament has the right to set laws to maintain public safety, but the rules should not be so overly broad that they capture offenders whose incarceration would benefit neither themselves nor the public.

Speaking in Waterloo, Ont., Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government is reviewing the laws around mandatory minimum sentences.

“There are situations where mandatory minimums are relevant,” Trudeau said.

“The Liberal party of the past in government brought in mandatory minimums around serious crimes like murder, but at the same time there is a general sense, reinforced by the Supreme Court decision today, that mandatory minimums brought in by the previous government in a number of cases went too far. This is what we are reflecting on.”

In a 6-3 ruling, the high court said a mandatory, one-year minimum sentence for a drug crime when the offender has a similar charge on their record constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, a violation of section 12 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Only twice before has the court found mandatory minimums to violate that particular section of the Charter.

The majority ruled that mandatory minimums in this instance cast too wide a net and catch conduct that can range from a “cold-blooded trafficker of hard drugs for profit” to someone who shares a small amount of marijuana with friends. Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, writing for the majority, said that in the latter instance “most Canadians would be shocked to find that such a person could be sent to prison for one year.”

The case came about after Joseph Ryan Lloyd was convicted in September 2014 of three counts of possessing crack, methamphetamine and heroin for the purpose of trafficking in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

An addict, Lloyd also had a 2012 trafficking charge.

The provincial court ruled that while the appropriate sentence for Lloyd was one year, the mandatory minimum sentence constituted cruel and unusual punishment and violated the charter.

Raji Mangat, director of litigation for the West Coast Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund, which intervened in the case, said the Supreme Court’s decision righted a wrong by giving judges more leeway in sentencing.

“Those sentencing judges, this is what they do day in and day out,” Mangat said. “They have the expertise to be able to decide what is going to be a fit and appropriate sentence and we think that that discretion should stay with the judges.”

The Supreme Court also unanimously agreed to strike down provisions passed in 2009 that prohibited a trial judge from giving more than one-for-one credit for pre-trial detention if a justice of the peace denied bail to the person because of a previous conviction.

That’s what happened in the case of Hamidreza Safarzadeh-Markhali, of Pickering, who was arrested in November 2010 on drug and weapons charges.

He was awarded extra pretrial credit by his trial judge and the Ontario Court of Appeal agreed, noting that three offenders with the same criminal records and given the same sentence could effectively end up serving substantially different amounts of time depending on whether they received bail.

Safarzadeh-Markhali has since been deported to Iran.

The Supreme Court found the law was overly broad and would capture offenders who, for instance, might have been convicted for failing to appear in court.

Safarzadeh-Markhali’s lawyer, Jill Presser, said the decision means thousands of people will serve less time in jail “by a factor of days to even years,” many of whom couldn’t get bail because of their circumstances or a lack of support.

Combined, she said, the decisions continue to dismantle the Harper-era, tough-on-crime agenda.

“The question for Parliament now is do they want to rebuild the structure on solid constitutional grounds, or simply let it come down?”
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Immigration Consequences of Criminal Conviction

More recently, issues in Criminal Courts are intersecting with issues being dealt with by Immigration Courts (IRPA).

Lawyers need to avoid possible claims that they failed to appreciate, or take action to mitigate, the implications of a six-month sentence for a client's right to appeal a deportation order (for non-Canadian citizens).

In the recent Supreme Court of Canada decision of Pham, the court acknowledged that a trial judge's lack of awareness of an accused's vulnerability to deportation could be relevant to the appeal of a sentence, the court took a fairly conservative approach to the question of judicial discretion to reduce sentences for immigration reasons.
In a subsequent Ontario Court of appeal decision, the court considered Pham and it's application to the facts before them.  In R. vs. Pinas, the OCA, made it clear that the court supports the exercise of discretion where the accused's circumstances merit it. 

Cases are heard every day in the Mississauga & Brampton Criminal Courts dealing with these very issues.  There is a limit to how much a court is prepared to exercise discretion to avoid the triggering of the automatic deportation laws.  Criminal Lawyers need to be aware of possible negitive immplication of a length sentence to an individual's immigration status. 
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Doda Charges in Peel:

It’s not surprising but some members of the East Indian community have been prosecuted for selling doda openly in Punjabi meat shops as “spices.”

A lot of Criminal Charges have been laid in the Mississauga & Brampton Courts for possession and trafficking in Narcotics (Dode & Heroin).

While treatment here in Canada to get rid of the addition is expensive; people are resorting to international treatment programs.
Some people have resorted to travelling to Amritsar, to check into “The Hermitage”. You may think this is some form of a hotel, resort or spa. It’s actually an addiction treatment center where, for approximately $400.00 to $500.00 a week, individuals from the Punjabi community in Brampton and Mississauga try to get rid of their Dode addiction.

The Hermitage see over a dozen patients a month from Canada. I’ve had client’s charged in the Brampton Courts with criminal charges of Possession of a Controlled Substance. I’ve been effective in convincing the Crown to permit my client to travel for treatment. They have accepted such a proposal with the understanding that if treatment is effective, it will benefit our client and society at large.
After dealing with their addition they have returned Canada to deal with their Criminal Charges in a more favourable manner. We have seen a significant increase in charges for possession of drugs such as Dode or Heroin, in the Punjabi Community.

Dode, or poppy powder, is a derivative of the highly addictive and illegal opium used frequently in Punjab, India. It tends to produce an initial high, then a calm but wakeful feeling that lasts several hours.
In recent years it has become increasingly popular among Toronto's Punjabi community. Truckers and construction workers use it to stay awake and alert for long hours while on the job.

It is popular, in part, because it is easy to obtain. Despite a police crackdown that saw 1,280 kilos – $2.5 million worth – of dode seized a few years ago from a Mississauga storage facility and homes in Brampton and Toronto.

Mississauga & Brampton Criminal Lawyers have seen an alarming increase in charges of possession of drugs in the Punjabi Community
in the past few years. On any given day there is usually a trial going on dealing with someone charged with possession of Dode or Heroin. It’s a problem in the community that the police is trying to eradicate with charges. What they perhaps really need is more educational programs and addition treatment facilities.

I have been a criminal lawyer practising law in Brampton & Mississauga for over 22 years. I attempt to utilize the resources in our community to better help my clients.
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Police Information Check PIC



Police Information Check (PIC) may be required for work, immigration, U.S. Visa/Border Crossing, or board members/agency staff who will not be working directly with vulnerable persons.

Note: This search is not intended for those seeking employment or volunteer positions with vulnerable individuals.

The applicant must be a resident of Mississauga or Brampton. Proof of address must be produced. Residents of Caledon must contact Caledon OPP.
Forms are available in the lobby of Peel Regional Police Headquarters
This search is completed (in most cases) "While you wait"
The applicant must attend in person
The applicant must produce two pieces of valid government issued identification, one with a photo (expired identification will not be accepted)
We are presently experiencing a high volume of requests and therefore processing time may be longer than usual.
This search WILL include:

Criminal convictions from CPIC and/or local databases and Summary convictions for five years when identified
Findings of Guilt under the Youth Criminal Justice Act within the applicable disclosure period
Outstanding entries such as Charges and Warrants, Judicial Orders, Peace Bonds, Probation and Prohibition Orders
Absolute and Conditional Discharge
This search will NOT include:

Police contacts, including by not limited to, theft, weapons, sex offences, or violent, harmful or threatening behaviour which may or may not have involved a mental health incident where no charges are laid.
All pardoned criminal convictions, including sex offences, identified as a result of a vulnerable sector verification search and authorized for release by the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.

note: Avtar Bhangal is a Criminal Lawyer practising in Mississauga & Brampton, for any questions or concerns you can reach him at 416-616-4211
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Police Information Check PIC



Police Information Check (PIC) may be required for work, immigration, U.S. Visa/Border Crossing, or board members/agency staff who will not be working directly with vulnerable persons.

Note:  This search is not intended for those seeking employment or volunteer positions with vulnerable individuals. 

The applicant must be a resident of Mississauga or Brampton.  Proof of address must be produced.  Residents of Caledon must contact Caledon OPP.
Forms are available in the lobby of Peel Regional Police Headquarters
This search is completed (in most cases) "While you wait"
The applicant must attend in person
The applicant must produce two pieces of valid government issued identification, one with a photo (expired identification will not be accepted)
We are presently experiencing a high volume of requests and therefore processing time may be longer than usual.
This search WILL include:

Criminal convictions from CPIC and/or local databases and Summary convictions for five years when identified
Findings of Guilt under the Youth Criminal Justice Act within the applicable disclosure period
Outstanding entries such as Charges and Warrants, Judicial Orders, Peace Bonds, Probation and Prohibition Orders
Absolute and Conditional Discharge
This search will NOT include:

Police contacts, including by not limited to, theft, weapons, sex offences, or violent, harmful or threatening behaviour which may or may not have involved a mental health incident where no charges are laid.
All pardoned criminal convictions, including sex offences, identified as a result of a vulnerable sector verification search and authorized for release by the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.

NOTE: AVTAR BHANGAL IS AN EXPERIENCE CRIMINAL LAWYER PRACTISING IN MISSISSAUGA & BRAMPTON, PLEASE CONTACT HIM FOR ANY QUESTIONS ON CRIMINAL RECORD CHECKS 416-616-4211
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YOUTH CRIME

They are committing fewer violent crimes, but more break-ins and thefts.

These are just some of the highlights of the 2014 Youth Crime Report, presented at Friday’s (Nov. 20) Police Services Board meeting in Brampton.

The report reveals Peel officers charged 1,944 youths aged 12-17 last year, down nearly four per cent from the 2,016 charged in 2013.

“Although there were some minor fluctuations. the incidents of youth criminal activity has remained fairly constant,” said Det. Michael Szabo, the force’s Youth Crime Coordinator, who authored the report. “It is encouraging to see the incidents of crimes…where youths were charged has decreased by 3.6 per cent.”

The report shows fewer youths were charged last year with “crimes against persons.” These include assault, robbery and sexual offences. There were 650 youths charged with such offences last year, down nearly 13 per cent from the 701 charged in 2013.

The number of youths charged with “crimes against property” however, increased nearly six per cent, from 650 last year to 616 in 2013. These include break-and-enters, fraud, mischief and arson.

Peel officers charged 16 youths last year with criminal offences such as drunk driving or dangerous driving. This represents a 33 per cent increase from 2013, the report stated.

Peel police continues to have programs and partnerships with the region’s youth, Szabo added.

One of those initiatives is the Pre-charge Diversion Program, which gives youth a second chance before being put into the criminal justice system through counselling and community service tasks that help them realize the consequences of breaking the law. In total, 591 cases were referred by Peel police to Associated Youth Services of Peel, an increase of 42 per cent from the 416 referrals in 2013.

Most of the cases referred to the Pre-charge Diversion Program are non-violent and minor in nature, Szabo said in the report.

Of the youths who completed this program in 2013, 12 per cent committed another crime within a year, compared to a recidivism rate of 28 per cent for youths who didn’t complete the program.

Police also have a heavier presence in high schools with the force's Neighbourhood Policing Units. These officers have been placed in every high school in Peel. Last year, officers investigated 2,463 incidents in these schools, the report stated.

Police also started the Youth in Policing Initiative last year, in which students from both school boards prepare presentations for police about topics important to them, ultimately educating police from a youth’s perspective.

Mississauga News
By Louie Rosella 

Reposted by Avtar Bhangal, Mississauga Criminal Lawyer
416-616-4211
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Interesting Stats about Punjabi Spoken at Home in Peel by the PEEL DATA CENTER

2011 Census: Languages

In May 2011, 90% of Peel residents had knowledge of English, up from 89.5% in 2006. In 2011, 89.5%, 90.4%, and 92.6% of Mississauga, Brampton, and Caledon residents had knowledge of English, compared to 88.8%, 90.1%, and 92.2% in 2006, respectively. In the GTA, 88.2% of residents had knowledge of English, up from 87.8% in 2006.

In Peel, 3.9% of residents had no knowledge of an official language, up from 3.7% in 2006. In 2011, 3.5%, 4.6%, and 1.0% of Mississauga, Brampton, and Caledon residents had no knowledge of an official language, compared to 3.6%, 4.3%, and 0.8% in 2006, respectively. In the GTA, 4% of residents had no knowledge of an official language, up slightly from 3.9% in 2006. In Peel, English was the language most often spoken at home by 63.9% of residents, down from 67.8% in 2006. English was spoken at home by 90.8% of Caledon residents, compared to 62.8% and 62.3% of Mississauga and Brampton residents, respectively. In the GTA, 69.0% of residents spoke English most often at home, down from 70.9% in 2006.

Of non-official languages spoken in Peel, Punjabi was the language most often spoken at home (7.4% of single responses), while in Mississauga it was Urdu (3.4% of single responses), in Brampton it was Punjabi (14.9% of single responses) and in Caledon it was Italian (2.0% of single responses). Of non-official languages spoken in the GTA, Cantonese was the language most often spoken at home (2.5% of single responses).
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Article On Youth Violence Data from Peel Regional Police


In order to take action on the issue of youth violence, we must first understand the problem.

Three main approaches to measuring the extent of youth violence are commonly used: official crime statistics, self reported data, and injury/mortality rates due to assaults. Each approach is described in detail below.

1. Official crime statistics compiled by law enforcement agencies.

This type of data can answer questions about the number of crimes reported to the police, the volume and types of arrests, and how the volume changes over time. 

However, it cannot completely answer questions about how many young people commit violent crimes or how many violent crimes were committed because many go unreported to the police. It could be said that arrest records are the best measure of the justice system's response to observed or reported crime.


It is also important to consider that violence rates from police reports of incidents can be influenced by the reporting system itself, and rates can increase alongside efforts made to improve reporting (1). This leads to the second approach below of self-reported victimization data in order to account for unreported acts of violence.

Data Resources for Official Crime Statistics:

Peel Regional Police provides some crime data for Brampton and Mississauga through their Annual Performance Reports and Divisional Crime Data Reports.

The Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics Profile Series (Statistics Canada) has
several publications about police-reported crime and violence in Canada and by province.
2. Self-reported data from the victim or perpetrator of violent acts.

Reports from young people themselves offer a way to measure violent behaviour that never reaches the attention of the justice system. Self-reports are well suited to answering questions that relate to the magnitude of violent behaviour and how it may develop.

The advantages of self-reported data is that it can capture unreported offences, additional details not found in arrest records, and it is not subject to biases involved in the arrest process. One limitation to self-reporting is that youth may fail to report their violent behaviour accurately, either deliberately or because of memory recall issues, and they may exaggerate their involvement, reporting rather trivial events in response to questions about serious forms of violence. Sophisticated self-reporting measures can help to minimize the error of over-reporting.

Data Resources for Self-Reported Violence and Crime:

The 2011 Peel Student Health Report includes data about Peel students' feelings of safety at home, at school and in the community, as well as being the victim of bullying.

The Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey (OSDUHS) from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) surveys Ontario students every two years and collects data related to:
School climate and connectedness
Externalizing behaviours (delinquency, violence, gang membership, violence on school property, and bullying at school)
Socio-demographics

The Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics Profile Series (Statistics Canada) has several publications about self-reported crime and violence in Canada and by province. 

3. Injury and mortality rates due to assaults.

This type of data can report on injuries or mortality (i.e. death) due to assaults that are entered into the hospital system and vital statistics. Again, it is limited in that many people injured due to a violent assault do not get treated in the hospital. Further, there are many more non-fatal injuries than fatal injuries for assault.

Data Resources for injuries and mortality:

Peel Health Status Data can be accessed for Peel-specific data regarding:

Leading causes of injuries and mortality
Hospitalization, emergency department visits and mortality due to assault
Socio-demographics (e.g. population size, education gender, income, employment, etc.)

The Peel Data Centre can also be accessed for data pertaining to socio-demographics for the Peel population.

Summary

All three types of measures contribute to our understanding of violence. They are valid and reliable ways of measuring the particular aspects of violence for which they are designed. The key to using the above measures, in addition to other potential data sources, is to understand their relative strengths and limitations, determine where they reinforce each other and where they diverge and then interpret the differences in findings (2).

A systematic approach to data collection and reporting would allow for a comprehensive picture of youth violence and the ability to compare rates of youth violence between jurisdictions and over time. There is currently limited Peel-specific data to fully understand the picture of violence among the Peel youth population, and how it compares to other jurisdictions. In some cases, data is only available at the provincial or federal level. More effort is required to understand the full magnitude of youth violence and its contributing factors in the Peel region.

Advocating for consistent measurement of youth violence municipally, provincially, nationally, and even internationally can help contribute to a stronger surveillance system for youth violence.

References

1. Piscitelli, A. (2008). Measuring Violence: Canadian Municipal Violence Rates in Context. Region of Waterloo Crime Prevention Council.

2. US Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Surgeon General (2001). Youth violence: a report of the surgeon general.
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