• The police want to talk, what do I do?

    In Canada, you have the right to remain silent. This right is constitutionally protected and enshrined in section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

    In most cases, you have no obligation to speak to the police or a person in authority. While you are not required to give the police information or assist in a criminal investigation in any way, you should properly identify yourself with your legal name.

    There is no requirement that police advise a person of their right to silence. If you are being questioned by police, remain silent so not to provide any information that could be used against you since voluntary statements made to police are admissible as evidence.

    You do not have the right for a lawyer to be present during questioning. If you are unsure about whether you have to co-operate with police, or how much information you are legally required to give police do not hesitate to contact us.

    Don’t forget, the police can use trickery and lie to have you attend the station or for you to provide a statement during an interview. They may call and say “they want to set up a meeting” or “discuss an incident” when they simply want to arrest you. They may also misleadingly say “this is your opportunity to tell us what happened” or “if you don’t speak to us, we will assume everything another witness said as true”.

    Even if you think you are innocent of one crime, you may in fact be guilty of another crime, one which you never even contemplated. In any event, speak to defence counsel before speaking to police.

    You should not lie to the police, instead just stay silent! If you are being investigated, lying to police can only hurt your ability to defend yourself in court. Lying to a police officer may constitute “obstructing a peace officer” or “obstruction of justice” which are serious criminal offences.

  • Will speaking to a lawyer “make me look guilty or suspicious”?

    In Canada, everyone charged with a criminal offense is considered innocent until proven guilty. Most times speaking to a lawyer before speaking to the police will dramatically improve the accused person’s chances of success. Once a request is made for a person to come into the police station, that individual should contact defence counsel. Taking safety precautions should not be confused with appearing like you have something to hide.

    When a decision is made on whether or not an accused is guilty, such decision is never based on an accused person’s perceived appearance before being interviewed by police.

    Although not yet charged with a criminal offence, the likelihood the police have investigated an offence and are looking to charge you is very plausible. Remember the police can lie to you and use trickery in their investigation. Whether guilty or not, everyone is entitled to legal advice and to know their protected rights. Don’t be afraid to obtain legal advice and consult a criminal defence lawyer before saying something that cannot be taken back!

  • Is there such thing as “off the record” or an “informal statement”?

    You have the right to remain silent and police do not have to advise you of this right.

    Everything that you voluntarily provide to a police officer is never guaranteed to be “off the record.” Any written or video recorded statement provided to a police officer is considered a formal statement. This includes verbal statements made to an officer over the phone or in person which can be recorded by the officer in their notebook.

    Although you are not required to give evidence against yourself, if you voluntarily choose to speak with police anything you say can be used as evidence against you.

    Exercise your right to counsel and contact a criminal defence lawyer to advise you what information you are legally required to give the police.

  • What is sexual assault?

    Sexual Assault is when someone touches a person, in a sexual way, without the consent of that other person. The touch or contact must have been made in a way that violates the sexual integrity of the complainant.

    A complainant of sexual assault can be a man, woman or child and the accused person may be of the same or opposite sex. Sexual contact between two people who consent is not a crime, however if one person no longer consents and the other continues to engage in sexual activity, this could be classified as sexual assault.

    Many innocent people face sexual assault allegations after complainants have come forward later alleging the sexual contact was non-consensual. Although, there is no limitation period for sexual assault charges historical allegations are common but are far more difficult for the Crown to prove.

    When police investigate sexual assault allegations they consider which part of the body was touched, the nature of the contact, the situation in which the contact occurred, the circumstances surrounding the act and whether or not there were any threats made by the accused person.

    Most sexual assault cases are based on credibility since the actions allegedly took place in private place where there were no other witnesses. To discuss defending a sexual assault charge contact today!

  • What is a surety?

    Once placed under arrested, a person is usually transported to the police station. In certain situations, both the arresting officer and the booking officer at the police station have the authority to release the arrested person to attend their first court appearance. Should they not be released, the accused will be held in custody and brought before a justice within 24 hours or as soon as possible.

    After being detained in custody, an accused person should retain a criminal lawyer with experience in conducting a “show cause hearing” commonly known as a bail hearing. Once the details of the case against the accused are obtained, meaningful discussions can be held with the crown to determine a potential release plan for the accused. Depending on the circumstances of the case, the criminal history of the accused and other factors, the crown may agree to release the accused on a set of conditions. Some of the conditions may include not to contact the victim or co-accused, not to consume alcohol, not to possess weapons and/or adhere to a curfew or house arrest.

    Based on the history of the accused, a surety might be required by the crown or court to finalize the accused person’s release plan. The accused will be monitored while they are out on bail by the surety who will be responsible for ensuring the accused follows the conditions of their release and makes it to court appearances and trial. Since acting as surety is a serious commitment where the surety essentially acts as a jailer within the community, the crown and the court do not accept potential sureties who themselves have a criminal record.

    Due to the regular contact required between the accused and their surety, a person normally accepted to act as a surety is a parent, friend or close relative. Some factors the court takes under consideration prior to accepting a surety are the length of time the surety has known the accused, the surety’s ability to supervise the accused and whether or not the surety has the funds to cover the bail.

  • What will happen on my first appearance?

    A first court appearance can be time consuming and stressful. It often keeps the accused from their work, family commitments, appointments and other responsibilities. If unrepresented, the accused must attend their first court date on the date and time listed on their appearance document.

    Matters are typically called in order. Represented parties and their counsel are called first, duty counsel matters second and finally unrepresented parties. As a result unrepresented parties may except to spend anywhere from two to three hours, possibly more, at court on the day of their first appearance. When you hire a lawyer your attendance on your first court date will not be required and your criminal lawyer may appear on your behalf.

    At the first appearance the accused person will stand before a Justice and address their matter accordingly. When the accused person is called before the Justice, the Crown will usually provide an “initial disclosure package” which may be in the form of documents, CDs or USB Drives.

    Once initial disclosure is received the court will expect the accused person to schedule a crown pre-trial before their next court date. A criminal defence lawyer will help to schedule and conduct pre-trials to ensure the best possible outcome in the circumstances. Your lawyer will also determine whether or not the provided disclosure is sufficient or if further documents and evidence should be requested from the crown or police.

  • How do I bail someone out?

    When a person is charged, the police may hold that person in custody pending a bail hearing. At the bail hearing the court will decide whether to release the person or hold them in custody until their trial.

    A bail hearing should take place right away, which means the individual wishing to bail a person out (also called the “Surety”) must act quickly. Hiring experienced defence counsel will considerably increase the chances of an accused being released on bail.

    There are a number requirements that a proposed surety should satisfy, including:

    1. Must be able to supervise the accused individual;
    2. Must be willing to pledge an amount of money;
    3. Must ensure that the accused person attends their court dates; and
    4. Should not have a criminal record.

    If someone has been arrested or will be arrested soon contact us to being working on their plan of release!

  • I’ve been charged with a crime – what happens next?

    For a quick overview of the criminal law process please watch the video below.

  • How to apply for Legal Aid Ontario?
    1. You and/or your lawyer will attend your first court appearance where initial disclosure will be received.
    2. This disclosure package must be taken to the Legal Aid office of the court house where it will be reviewed by a Legal Aid lawyer.
    3. To be accepted for Legal Aid you must satisfy both a legal and financial requirement. At the Legal Aid office a Legal Aid lawyer will determine whether the legal test is met. This is primarily based on whether or not jail time is a likely outcome. If the odds of jail time are high, so too are the odds of satisfying the legal test.
    4. To satisfy the financial test you will have to contact Legal Aid by telephone. You can call 1-800-668-8258.

    Defence counsel can assist clients in applying for Legal Aid and often help expedite the application process. If you are looking to apply for Legal Aid, contact us and we would be happy to guide you through the process from beginning to end.

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