Lawrence Forstner

Lawrence Forstner
Forstner Law

Lawrence Forstner, principal of the Oshawa, Ont. firm Forstner Law, focuses on criminal law.

He graduated from Ryerson University with a Bachelor of Applied Arts in photography, before earning his Master of Business Administration from the Rotman School of Business at the University of Toronto. He went on to earn his Juris Doctor degree from Osgoode Hall Law School in 2013 before being called to the Ontario Bar in 2014.

With a background as a probation and parole officer and an assistant Crown attorney, Mr. Forstner handles summary and indictable criminal offences such as domestic assault and impaired driving, as well as traffic and other regulatory offences.

Mr. Forstner is a member of the Canadian Bar Association, the Criminal Lawyers’ Association and the Durham Region Law Association.

Lawrence Forstner In The News
Extreme inebriation defence needs top court's consideration

Two competing Ontario Superior Court decisions have left the defence of extreme inebriation ripe for constitutional review by appeal courts, Oshawa criminal lawyer Lawrence Forstner  tells . Read more

Ruling upholds 'freestanding right' to counsel: Forstner

The Ontario Court of Appeal has issued a decision that strongly affirms that a suspect's right to consult a lawyer is a psychological lifeline when they are detained by police, Oshawa criminal lawyer  Lawrence Forstner  tells . Read more

Corrections system provides a model for therapeutic jurisprudence

This is the final instalment in a four-part series on therapeutic jurisprudence by criminal lawyer Lawrence Forstner. Read more

Australia should be therapeutic jurisprudence role model for Canada

In the third instalment of a four-part series, Oshawa criminal lawyer Lawrence  Forstner  examines  what makes Australia a leader in therapeutic jurisprudence. Read more

Reduce recidivism, justice system costs with therapeutic jurisprudence

In the second instalment of a four-part series, Oshawa criminal lawyer Lawrence Forstner  examines the concept of therapeutic jurisprudence. Read more

Therapeutic jurisprudence: a criminal justice revolution

In the first instalment of a four-part series examining therapeutic jurisprudence, Oshawa criminal lawyer Lawrence Forstner discusses how the way an accused is treated in court will shape their perception of the system. Read more

Understanding stigma, bias key to defending domestic assault cases

Domestic assault cases can be among the most complex — and stigmatizing — in court partly because they are not dealt with the same way as common assault, says Oshawa criminal lawyer  Lawrence Forstner . Read more

A call for the release of PAR program data: Forstner

Domestic violence defendants are being asked to take counselling programs that are often unnecessary and can even be harmful, says Oshawa criminal lawyer Lawrence Forstner .   Read more

Understanding why some domestic complainants recant

The reasons why domestic assault complainants recant their statements is an issue that deserves further exploration to ensure everyone has access to justice, Oshawa criminal lawyer Lawrence Forstner tells . Read more

Ontario courts in need of tech updates: Forstner

It is an unfortunate reality that the technology available to most people in the developed world is still not present in Ontario’s court system, says Oshawa criminal lawyer Lawrence Forstner . Read more

Self-reps and the need for more help

More help needs to be provided for self-reps in a justice system where some accused people can’t afford counsel and don’t qualify for legal aid, says Oshawa criminal lawyer Lawrence Forstner . Read more

SCC ruling a 'refreshing reset to search law'

OTTAWA — Canadians can expect the texts they send to remain private — at least in some cases — even after the messages reach their destination, the Supreme Court declared in setting aside the firearms convictions of a man whose sent messages were uncovered by police. Read more

The cost of marijuana legalization: Forstner

OTTAWA — Alberta's premier says she's worried that marijuana legalization could drive up policing and court bills her province cannot afford to pay. Read more

The perversity: access denied means justice denied

By Lawrence Forstner . The Supreme Court of Canada’s Chief Justice, Beverley McLachlin, recently told a group of students   that she sees access to justice and low levels of legal aid funding for accused persons to be a major issue confronting Canadian governments and the justice sector. As someone who regularly represents people receiving legal aid, I couldn’t agree more. In one case recently, I spoke with a man that had been accused of refusing to give a breath sample at the side of the road. The penalty for refusing to give a breath sample is identical to the penalty for drinking and driving: a conviction (and therefore a criminal record) and a $1,000 fine, as well as a one-year license suspension.  After a few minutes of talking with him, I realized he had a fairly good case. He had pulled over to take his heart medication, after driving away from a bar with a friend. An officer had been driving nearby and saw the act of pulling over for no visible purpose as being suspicious behaviour. The officer’s notes indicate that he felt that the driver had pulled over into a parking lot because he had seen the police car behind him. The reality was that the accused, because of his heart condition, can only have one or two drinks at most. Compounding this misunderstanding was the fact that neither the officer nor the accused spoke English as their first language. The accused had never been in a situation like this and had difficulty understanding both English and the thick accent of the officer. When asked to give the breath sample, the accused inquired as to whether he had ‘the right’ to decline the request? I can picture the situation perfectly: the officer told the accused that of course, he had the right to decline, but if he did, he would be charged with refusing to give a breath sample, for which the penalty was the same as for impaired driving. In the moment, the accused didn’t grasp the second half of the statement and simply heard that he had the right to decline. In his mind, the accused was grappling with the fact that he was having an acute moment of heart trouble, and had just taken an emergency spray medication that acts quickly to quell the heart palpitations he was experiencing. He was wondering if the spray might affect the test results and didn’t know the intricacies of the law around roadside stops for suspected drinking and driving offences. As I continued to listen, the accused described to me that when he was finally arrested, he realized that in fact, he did not really have ‘the right’ to decline giving a breath sample. So, at that moment, he offered to give the sample. But, as is his right, the officer told him it was too late. The law is that after an accused person has made a clear refusal, the officer need not give him another opportunity (he can of course, but he doesn’t have to). In many cases that I have seen this is absolutely fair, as intoxicated drivers sometimes play a game of cat and mouse; at one moment saying yes to giving the sample and then at the next refusing. Officers get fed up, and the law has developed to allow the officer to say ‘enough is enough.’ Yet, as a lawyer, now looking at the disclosure the accused had allowed me to peruse, and having the discussion we were having, it was clear to me that there had been a number of misunderstandings to do with language, acute health problems, and lack of knowledge of the law. This can lead to a valid defence, because the demand has to be clear and there must be some indication that the accused actually understood what was being demanded. Because drinking and driving has been described judicially as ‘a scourge’ on society, the authorities have a zero tolerance approach, and the law does not even allow for a penalty less than receiving a criminal record. For those with prior run-ins with the law, another conviction doesn’t mean much. But for people with no police history, a conviction is about as bad as it gets. Unless they have been involved in a serious personal injury offence, most first time offenders receive some form of discharge for things like assaults (even domestic), thefts, uttering threats and many other offences prosecuted summarily. In other words, for a first offence, most people are not burdened with a criminal record. Not so with drink/drive offences. Read more

Bail decisions and the value of providing reasons

A recent Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) ruling calls on judges and justices of the peace to provide explanations about how they reached a decision in a bail hearing, says Oshawa criminal lawyer Lawrence Forstner .  Read more

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