To those who don’t have professional training as lawyers, Canada’s legal system can seem a little opaque. While most people have a basic understanding of certain aspects of the law, when you actually have to deal with a concrete legal problem like being charged with a criminal offence, it can be frightening and intimidating.
This is where criminal defence lawyers come in. A Toronto criminal defence lawyer knows the law and understands how it applies to your case, and can advise you as to the best way to move forward. This post will explore a few of the services that a good criminal defence lawyer should provide, and how these services can help you navigate the legal system if you’re facing criminal charges.
By law, you must receive a bail hearing within 24 hours of being charged with a criminal offence. A bail hearing will determine the conditions in which you will await trial.
What your bail hearing looks like will depend on a number of factors, including your own history with the law (if you are a first-time offender charged with a non-violent crime, it is highly likely you will be released on a promise to appear in court).
But if you are concerned that you may be held in custody awaiting trial, or required to abide by stringent conditions or post a large bail payment, you should contact our criminal defense lawyers today to make sure you have legal representation at your bail hearing. A defence lawyer who has experience with bail hearings can help you arrive at an arrangement that will be less disruptive to your life.
In some cases — most notably domestic assault — charges may be placed automatically on behalf of another individual. In Ontario, police do not need evidence to lay domestic assault charges. All it takes is for one partner to tell the police they have been assaulted. And given that the Criminal Code of Canada defines assault quite broadly, there are many actions that can reasonably be interpreted as assault.
Sometimes, this happens in the heat of the moment, and when the moment has passed the person making the accusation decides to dropped the charges and find a more amicable way of working out differences.
But when a person is charged with this kind of offence, they are often prohibited from contacting their accuser, making it difficult to explore this possibility. This is why hiring a domestic assault lawyer in Toronto who knows all the legal options for having the charges dropped or reaching a settlement out of court is so important.
Settling issues like this without recourse to a trial is often beneficial to all the parties involved (domestic assault convictions can lead to stiff probation requirements and, in some cases, jail time), so a good criminal defence lawyer should explore all of these options before moving forward with a defence in court.
Preparing a Defence
If the case does go to court, you will need a criminal lawyer who can present your case for the best outcome — in some cases, your lawyer may advise that you plead guilty to a lesser charge if a full acquittal does not seem likely. Even if you are convicted, a good defence can lead to a lesser sentence and help you avoid jail time.
Preparing a defence can be an emotionally difficult process, and it is important to have a lawyer you can trust. Remember, in a criminal matter your defence lawyer is working on your behalf, and has a responsibility to explore every avenue for a potential defence available.
Presenting Your Case in Court
Once a defence has been prepared, it will be presented in court. A Crown Prosecutor will lay out the case against you, while your criminal defence lawyer will argue your side of the question.
In Canada, anyone charged with a criminal offence punishable by five years or more in prison has the constitutional right to a jury trial. In the case of lesser offences such as impaired driving, the trial will likely be tried before a judge.
While popular culture valorizes flashy legal defences, what matters most at a trial is knowledge of Common Law and the ability to make a strong case for your rights. For example, if the police used unlawful means to lay a charge, the case may be thrown out of court.
Just because a verdict has been handed down does not mean you have exhausted your legal avenues. In some cases, it will be possible to appeal the case to a higher court.
In Canada, there are four levels of court:
- Provincial and territorial lower courts
- Provincial and territorial superior courts
- Provincial and territorial Courts of Appeal/the Federal Court of Appeal
- The Supreme Court of Canada, which serves as the final court of appeal
The jurisdiction of these courts is complex (in some cases, a serious case will go straight to the superior courts, though these courts also serve as courts of appeal for lower courts), and while it is unusual for a criminal case to make it all the way to the Supreme Court, it has been known to happen, as in cases where a significant question of constitutional law is at stake.
According to a recent government review of the Canadian justice system, many Canadians feel there are systemic problems that keep ordinary people from receiving a truly fair hearing and. This is why it is more important than ever to make sure you have an experienced defence lawyer who can stand up for your rights and make sure you have the advice and personal support you need.
Jeffrey I. Reisman worked as a Prosecutor before becoming a defence lawyer, which means he has extensive experience with both the Crown and Defence perspectives, and he can use his vast understanding of the law to make your case in court.
If you’re looking for a lawyer who can mount a compelling defence no matter how serious the charges you’re facing are, Jeffrey I. Reisman is your best choice.