Friday, March 5, 2010

Ink March 11th Meeting

Next meeting: 7 pm, March 11, at Owl's Nest Books, 815A 49 Ave SW, Calgary.

Do you set your stories in Canada? If you do, don't miss this speaker.

Every Canadian mystery writer needs to understand how our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms affects the way that the police and the courts handle criminal cases.

Our speaker on March 11 is the ideal person to guide us through the Charter in the criminal justice system.

Linda McKay-Panos
is an Alberta lawyer who started her legal career as a staff lawyer at the Alberta Court of Appeal. She is now the Executive Director of the Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre. She also teaches courses on civil liberties and human rights at the University of Calgary.

The Charter sets out fundmental principles. As courts decide, case-by-case, how to apply these principles, the rules are clarified.

So what does the Charter cover, when it comes to criminal law? Here are some examples:

- What is a legal search and seizure?
- What happens if the police don't follow the rules when they search someone or someplace?
- In the movies, the police officer might tell someone: "You can talk to us here or we can go downtown." If Canadian police want you to go "downtown" to be questioned, do you have to go?
- What do the police have to do if they want to arrest someone?
- In American movies, the cops "read them their rights"--their Miranda rights, that is ("You have the right to remain silent...."). In Canada, we have Charter rights. What do Canadian police tell someone they're arresting? What are the consequences if they don't get it right?
- What rights does a person have, once arrested?
- Does a person who has just been arrested get just the one call?
- What information does the prosecutor (the Crown) have to give to the accused person before trial? What about the other way around: what does the accused person give to the Crown?
- How does the Charter affect the way that the trial is conducted?
- What happens if the prosecutor or the judge makes a mistake? What are the consequences?

And more! Bring your questions to this meeting.

If you would like to read the sections of the Charter before the meeting  Charter Excerpts Here
Look for Legal Rights, sections 7-14.