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 Criminal Defence Law

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Updated for 2016 Ask CanLaw for a lawyer referral

YOUR GUIDE TO CRIMINAL DEFENCE LAW IN CANADA

 

YOUR TRIAL

What Will Happen To You?

Guilty, not guilty, peace bond, jail many things can happen to you at your trial. Men are treated far more harshly than women for the same crims

Your Trial: What to Expect

 

Just Because You Did It,

Does Not Mean You Are Guilty

Know this: 97% of all criminal trials in Canada result in some sort of conviction.

Beware of demanding your day in court. Chances are you will pay dearly.

A criminal lawyer may save you from jail
A criminal lawyer may save you from jail

Trial

 

Your trial is a complex process, (unlike TV trials) where your guilt or innocence is decided.

The more serious charges will be tried in your province's Superior Court and some of those are argued before a jury.

The less serious charges will usually be tried in the lower courts without a jury.

It is highly recommended that you retain a lawyer for trial. Do not leave this to the last minute. Click Here to ask CanLaw to refer you to a criminal lawyer in your area.

Lawyers require some time to prepare for your best defence.

Peace Bond

 

The judge can, in many cases, order you to sign a peace bond even if you are acquitted. If you refuse to sign, you could be jailed for up to 12 months. This is so wrong, it is astonishing, but it is the law until someone appeals it to the Supreme Court of Canada. You can thank Herr Harper.

About Police Records

Understand this: Police records and files on you will never be erased. Records of every contact with you, every complaint by a neighbour, arrest, charge, acquittal, stay, discharge, diversion and conviction are kept permanently by the police regardless of the outcome.

Verdict: Guilty Or Innocent

 

The verdict is given at the end of trial. If there is a jury, it decides on your guilt or innocence. If there is no jury, the judge will pass judgment.

If there are multiple charges, you could be acquitted of some of the charges while being found guilty of others.

If you are found not guilty, the matter is over unless the Crown is unhappy with either the verdict or the sentence. The Crown can appeal either one

Appeal

If you are unsatisfied with the verdict or the sentence you can appeal either or both. So can the Crown.

That does not mean you can appeal just because you were convicted. You must have grounds to appeal, such as a serious error by the judge during the trial.

There are very short and strict deadlines for filing appeals. Do not delay contacting a lawyer about your possible appeal if you believe you may want to appeal.

Sentence

 

If you are found guilty (convicted) you will be sentenced. Your sentence could be passed that same day or it may be adjourned to a later date to allow for assessments and pre-sentence reports and submissions to be completed or preparations to be made.

Your lawyer will make submissions to the judge hoping to lessen the sentence, while the crown will do the exact opposite. Often the crown and your lawyer will negotiate and then make a joint submission on sentencing. The judge is free to accept or reject any or all submissions.

 

The judge will consider many factors when deciding on and passing sentence.

  • Some considerations are:
  • The offence
  • Your age
  • Any criminal record you have
  • The offences listed in your criminal record
  • The circumstances of the offence.
  • Submissions by your lawyer and the crown
  • What Will Happen To You?

 

Sentences can range from discharge (absolute or conditional), fines, probation, all the way up to jail. Determining which sentence is appropriate for which offender or offence is not an easy task. Your lawyer is the best person to advise you on the potential sentence and what it means.

Not sure what to do? Ask CanLaw to find a lawyer or paralegal who can coach you
Guide to the criminal law process
Copyright © 1996 - CanLaw Inc.

This is not legal advice, it is information

Lay Person's Guide To The Criminal Prosecution Process

Last Updated:

Bail Hearings & Reviews Estreatment Hearings Murder & Manslaughter Assaults & Robbery Break & Enter Theft & Possession Fraud & Forgery Drug Offences Impaired & Dangerous Driving Sex Offences Failure to Comply Breach of Probation Destruction of Fingerprints Destruction of Photographs Pardons Sex Offences Notarizing Documents Commissioning Documents Youth Criminal Justice Act