What does the Lawdawg do?
The Lawdawg is a criminal lawyer. That means his work is restricted to going to Court to help people who are charged with committing criminal or regulatory offences.
Parliament can create rules that prohibit almost any kind of behaviour. When there is a punishment (i.e. a fine or jail sentence) associated with a judicial finding that someone deliberately engaged in the prohibited behaviour, we think of that as criminal law. Usually we think of criminal offences as offences that define:
- the prohibited behaviour (known as the actus reus or guilty act) and
- the required intention (known as the mens rea or guilty mind),
Criminal Code offences are forms of prohibited conduct that exist because the Criminal Code of Canada says they are offences; everything from impaired operation of a motor vehicle to accessing child pornography is illegal because the Criminal Code says it is.
People are frequently surprised by the sweep of the prohibitions contained in the Criminal Code: who knew it was a crime to leave a hole open on your own land? And why is it only illegal to pretend to practice witchcraft?
Drug offences are, much like the Criminal Code, offences created by the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act which states that certain activity involving certain chemicals is illegal. Different drugs in different quantities are dealt with in different ways under the CDSA. Usually the maximum penalties increase as the drugs are considered increasingly dangerous.
People are often quite shocked to learn that many forms of drug trafficking (which includes simply giving it away) are associated with a life sentence in jail.
Regulatory offences, like speeding tickets or fishing without a licence, do not usually include a requirement that the conduct be intentional in the legal sense of the word although it must be conduct for which the accused is responsible. Some regulatory offences, for example, punish offenders who have failed to anticipate accidents. Workplace safety legislation, for example requires that workers be appropriately trained; an employer who fails to ensure that employees are trained to the work assigned, will be charged in the event for the accident that the untrained employee caused.
Regulatory offences are designed to make it cheaper to comply than to ignore the rules. So in spite of the fact that no mens rea is required, some regulatory offences have huge fines associate with them, the idea being to deter people from engaging in non-compliant conduct
Criminal Offences and Regulatory offence require that you go to Court; that is where the Lawdawg comes in.