Frequently Asked Questions

Criminal Law 101: I have been charged with a criminal offense, what do I need to know?

The criminal justice system can be anything but straightforward. Understanding the process and how a lawyer can, and should, help you along the way is a critical first step. Below are some commonly asked questions I receive regarding the process, my involvement as your lawyer and expected fees. If you have further questions, don’t hesitate to reach and book a free consultation.

 


Criminal Law 101: What can I expect at my Bail Hearing?

Legal Overview:

In Canada, everyone charged with a criminal offence is innocent until proven guilty. The presumption of innocence is entrenched in section 11(d) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and remains intact until the resolution of your case.

However, notwithstanding this presumption, upon arrest, the police may detain you in custody for a Show Cause or “Bail” hearing. In most cases, the Crown must “Show Cause” why you should be further detained in custody until your trial- which is likely at least 3 or 4 months away. Needless to say, the ramifications of an unsuccessful Bail Hearing are often at least as serious as those of an unsuccessful trial.

In order to prevent the Crown from Showing Cause, it is usually necessary for a surety to come to court, pledge a certain amount of money for your release and present a plan of supervision that serves to satisfy the court that you will attend court as required and not commit additional offences upon release.

A surety can be a family member, significant other or anyone else who knows you well enough to act as your civilian “jailor” and, of course, is willing to put some of their finances at risk to ensure your release. Generally, the following individuals cannot be sureties:

  • Someone with a criminal record
  • Someone charged with a criminal offence
  • Someone acting as surety for someone else
  • A co-accused

How a Lawyer Can Help:

Like a doctor, it is sometimes necessary for a criminal defence lawyer to be “on call” outside business hours in order to respond quickly and effectively. Nowhere is this parallel more apparent than at the Bail stage of proceedings.

I understand that your loved one is in custody and does not want to remain there for a minute longer than is absolutely necessary. That is why I make it a priority (whenever possible) to clear my schedule when my clients are arrested and are being held for a Bail Hearing. In the event of such an emergency, please do not hesitate to contact me as soon as possible- anytime.


 

Criminal Law 101: When will I be presented the case against me?

Legal Overview:

Everyone charged with an offence has the right to know the evidence the Crown has against them. This evidence is called Disclosure and is generally provided at the first court appearance after the Bail Hearing. Disclosure will usually include items like a synopsis of the allegations, police officers’ notes and witness statements.

By knowing the case against you, you will understand exactly what you are accused of doing and how the Crown intends to prove it.

How A Lawyer Can Help:

Though a case may look bleak at first glance, it is extremely important to have your disclosure carefully scrutinized- with a trained eye. I will identify the legal issues (including any Charter arguments), conduct research on the relevant statutory provisions and explain any weaknesses in the Crown’s case.


 

Criminal Law 101: What happens before my case goes to trial?

Legal Overview:

A Crown Pre-Trial is a meeting with the Crown Attorney about your case. It is at this time that the Crown will usually provide its position on a guilty plea. There will also be some discussion as to how much court time will be required should your matter go to trial.

A Judicial Pre-Trial is similar to a Crown Pre-Trial, with the addition of a Judge. The Judge will attempt to streamline the process by identifying what the triable issues are and what areas (if any) the two parties are in agreement on. As is the case with a Crown Pre-Trial, a Judicial Pre-Trial will determine the time estimate for trial or, if necessary, preliminary hearing (for more serious matters). 

How A Lawyer Can Help:

Crown Attorneys are used to meeting with lawyers. Advocacy starts at the Pre-Trial stage and after digesting every aspect of your Disclosure, I will be in a position to effectively utilize any weaknesses in the allegations against you. This can lead to a more favourable position on a guilty plea (should you choose to go that route), or even the stay/withdrawal of all of the charges against you.

Judges appreciate lawyers who are well-prepared and aware of all potential issues in the case. As your advocate, I will ensure that these issues receive the attention they deserve, with the requisite amount of court time being set aside to deal with them.


 

Criminal Law 101: Will I have a preliminary hearing?

Legal Overview:

A Crown Pre-Trial is a meeting with the Crown Attorney about your case. It is at this time that the Crown will usually provide its position on a guilty plea. There will also be some discussion as to how much court time will be required should your matter go to trial.

A Judicial Pre-Trial is similar to a Crown Pre-Trial, with the addition of a Judge. The Judge will attempt to streamline the process by identifying what the triable issues are and what areas (if any) the two parties are in agreement on. As is the case with a Crown Pre-Trial, a Judicial Pre-Trial will determine the time estimate for trial or, if necessary, a preliminary hearing (for more serious matters). 

How A Lawyer Can Help:

Crown Attorneys are used to meeting with lawyers. Advocacy starts at the Pre-Trial stage and after digesting every aspect of your Disclosure, I will be in a position to effectively utilize any weaknesses in the allegations against you. This can lead to a more favourable position on a guilty plea (should you choose to go that route), or even the stay/withdrawal of all of the charges against you.

Judges appreciate lawyers who are well-prepared and aware of all potential issues in the case. As your advocate, I will ensure that these issues receive the attention they deserve, with the requisite amount of court time being set aside to deal with them.


 

Criminal Law 101: What can I expect when I go to trial?

Legal Overview:

This is the day you have likely waited seven or eight months for. Depending on the seriousness of the offence, you may have the option to be tried by Judge alone or Judge and Jury (the latter is reserved for more serious offences).

The Crown will call its evidence in an attempt to persuade a Judge (or Jury) of your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The Defence will then call its evidence to prevent the Crown from doing so. Witnesses will be examined and cross-examined, Charter issues will be ruled upon, submissions will be made and, barring a hung Jury, a verdict will be reached on the various charges against you.

How Can A Lawyer Help:

The United States Supreme Court once remarked that “a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client”. If this adage is true for lawyers, it is exponentially more true for individuals who have never attended law school, articled at a law firm, or passed the bar examination.

In addition to the amount of preparation required to effectively attack the Crown’s case, legal research skills have, in my experience, been invaluable in making Charter arguments and crafting submissions that will resonate with a Judge or Jury. As your case will often turn on the cross-examination of one or more Crown witnesses, it will be in your interest to allow me to do what I do best.

You have been waiting a long time- allow me to put your best foot forward.


 

Criminal Law 101: What can I expect at my sentencing hearing? 

Legal Overview:

If you elected to plead guilty or you were found guilty of one or more charges at Trial, you will proceed to a Sentencing hearing. At the Sentencing hearing, the Judge will hear submissions from both the Crown and the Defence. In addition to information on your background, various principles, including denunciation, deterrence, rehabilitation and respect for the law will be considered in determining the appropriate sentence.

How Can A Lawyer Help:

Like any other advocacy situation, the Sentencing demands a requisite amount of structure, composure and persuasion. Over the course of my practice, I have developed an understanding of what aspects of your own unique background Judges will appreciate hearing about and what factors tend to mitigate in

favour

of a less onerous sentence. Legal research is often required to determine the appropriate sanction for the impugned conduct. As is the case with respect to various other parts of the criminal process, the Charter will apply.

You are not just a number on the docket- allow me to tell your story.