Changes eliminate warrants for minor offenses
The Alberta Government announced measures on Monday that are designed to ease pressure on Alberta courts and save resources.
Kathleen Ganley, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General announced “An Act to Modernize Enforcement of Provincial Offences.”
This eliminates the use of warrants to enforce tickets and outstanding fines for minor, non-traffic-related charges.
“The benefit of these new measures is that police, court staff, judges and others in the justice system will no longer have to spend thousands of hours each year processing warrants issued for minor offences. We know their time is better spent focusing on more serious and violent matters,” said Minister Ganley.
Local Defense lawyer Colin Kloot says the change could be beneficial. “I think it is a good thing,” said Kloot. According to a release, Alberta court staff spend nearly 9,000 hours annually processing warrants for minor offenses.
He explains if a person is charged with a part 2 offence and they do not appear in court, a warrant for arrest is issued. This means a person can be arrested on charges as minor as a bylaw infraction or an LRT ticket.
“If you have a warrant for a municipal bylaw offence, and you are driving down the road in Okotoks and you are caught for speeding, they are going to have to arrest you, they will take you into custody and you have to face detention or a release hearing, or they will release you on a promise to appear.
“There are just too many resources being utilized for these kinds of offences,” he said.
He says with the new initiative, these kinds of tickets will be treated like traffic infractions where the people facing these kinds of offenses could be held responsible through civil measures such as restricting vehicle registration services.
Along with these changes, they are introducing what is being dubbed an e-ticketing initiative, which will allow police and peace officers to electronically file tickets with the court, reducing paperwork.
“It is just modernizing the system,” said Kloot.