Specific Offences

This page includes capsules that deal with specific offences. A few caveats!

  1. Needless to say, this is not legal advice.  It is designed to provide introductory explanations of certain topics in criminal law.
  2. These materials were designed for my students taking part in my criminal law class- as such they are NOT supposed to be comprehensive or exhaustive of the subject.
  3. They were made with time constraints in mind.  There are errors throughout, and though I feel confident about the product generally, I did not attempt to correct every mistake made.  The goal was to put a good product together in a short period of time.
  4. Often, in the interests of time, certain points are generalized.  This doesn’t mean they’re “wrong”, but nuances are often fleshed out in the course materials or in class.  Rather than include caveats with every sentence, I sometimes make broad generalizations even though I’m aware there might be exceptions that can occasionally arise.  Again, the goal is to promote a generalized understanding that provides a platform for deeper learning.
  5. I will heartily disavow any attempt to rely upon these in conflict with another Professor, judge, lawyer, etc.  Thus, anyone who says “yes, but Professor Sankoff said X”… will receive no support from me!  Especially where exams are concerned, it is always good practice to follow your Professor’s view of the law.  If this material helps you, by all means use it, but do so with care.

Homicide: How to Categorize Various Acts of Killing? – July 2015

This capsule explains how the Criminal Code categorizes and establishes liability for a variety of acts that lead to the death of another human being. My objective here is simply to set out the differences between murder, manslaughter and infanticide, and provide a “road map” around the (sometimes complicated) Code provisions that define the various offences.

Sexual Offences: Actus Reus Issues  – February 2015

This capsule addresses questions raised by my students about the AR of sexual assault, particularly focused on consent.  I focus on four issues: (1) the burden of proving lack of consent, and what that means in a particular case; (2) an absence of consent in cases where the complainant cannot remember what happened; (3) the difference between an absence of consent and vitiated consent; and (4) whether cases involving HIV transmission and pregnancy, where consent is vitiated by fraud, always amount to aggravated sexual assault.

Sexual Offences: The Conceptual Framework – January 2015

This capsule provide students with a conceptual overview of the way in which sexual offending against children and adults is treated by the Criminal Code. The goal is to identify key points of tension, and look at the elements the Crown needs to establish in order to obtain a conviction.

Sexual Offences: Mens Rea Issues  – February 2015

This capsule addresses questions raised by my students, focusing on the “defence” of honest, mistaken belief in consent. In particular, I look at how the defence can be raised, and how the reasonable steps provision is addressed.

In addition to these capsules, I have created video blogs that discuss the following topics related to sexual offences:

1) Consent vitiated by bodily harm

2) The private use exception for child pornography offences

This material has taken considerable time and effort to produce.  I ask only two things in return.  First, if you like these capsules – pass them on.  The primary objective here is to share a deeper understanding for the subject area I love most.  Second, if any of this was in any way useful, I urge you to let me know.  A short note at psankoff@ualberta.ca, or a comment (below), or even a “like”, would really make my day!

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