FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
COMMON QUESTIONS ANSWERED BY OUR CRIMINAL DEFENCE LAWYER
A criminal conviction or record will affect you for the rest of your life, unless you obtain a record suspension. Detrimental effects of having a criminal record include, but are not limited to:
- issues with obtaining employment and reduced employment and volunteer opportunities;
- immigration problems; difficulty travelling outside of Canada or denial of entering particular countries;
- greater likelihood of serving a lengthier jail sentence or probationary period, if convicted of another offence;
- one’s criminal record can be used to discredit them in a subsequent court proceeding;
- social stigma of being labelled as a “criminal”;
- being under greater scrutiny by police;
- firearms prohibition;
- driving prohibition, and;
- provide a DNA sample that will be entered into the national DNA database.
The short answer is – YES, you NEED a criminal lawyer if you have been charged with an offence and- NO, you shouldn’t represent yourself. Criminal law and procedure in Canada is very complex and sophisticated. If you have been charged with an offence, please do not try to save a couple bucks by representing yourself. You should contact at least one criminal lawyer to schedule an initial consultation in order to gain an understanding of the potential issues, defences, consequences and options in your case. Even if your not facing a jail sentence, it is crucial to be aware of the consequences of any criminal disposition that the Crown prosecutor is offering to the accused (i.e. effect of absolute and conditional discharges).
Disclosure is a term used to describe the evidence the Crown Attorney (prosecutor) is relying on to prove the criminal charges against you. Disclosure typically consists of a record of arrest, police officer notes, synopsis of the allegations, witness statements, photos or videos, and more. In Canada, you have the constitutional right to make full answer and defence to any criminal or quasi-criminal charges made against you, under section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. As such, the Crown Attorney is legally obligated to provide you with ALL the evidence it intends to use against you to prove its case, as well as any other RELEVANT information, regardless of whether they intend to use it or not.
‘Initial disclosure’ package may be provided by the Crown Attorney on the first court appearance. It is common for the Crown not to provide disclosure on the first court date. There are various reasons for this. For example, they may be waiting for a police officer’s notes, or the delivery of CCTV video footage from a third party, or they may be reviewing and vetting the disclosure in order to provide an early-resolution position and to remove any information that is not disclosable (e.g. irrelevant information relating to identity of complainants, witness or informants, or police investigative techniques).
You may certainly attend on your first appearance to receive your disclosure, and if it is prepared, the Crown Attorney (prosecutor) will provide it you.
HOWEVER, the Crown does not always have it prepared for a variety of reasons. Some times the Crown will provide some disclosure in what’s called ‘initial disclosure’ and require more time to provide the rest. Issues relating to the delay of providing disclosure may result in the charges being withdrawn in a Charter application that is heard before a judge.
Even in cases where the Crown does provide disclosure, it is crucial to have an experienced Criminal Lawyer examine the materials in order to determine if any important information is missing. If anything is missing, a disclosure request must be made to the Crown Attorney’s office in writing . Our Criminal Lawyers at Farjoud Law will appear on your behalf and make sure the appropriate comments are put on the record so that any delays will be attributed to the fault of the Crown Attorney.
It is not uncommon for the Crown to fail to provide important pieces of disclosure (e.g. video footage of alleged offence) as a result of a police officers’ failure to preserve evidence, or destruction of the evidence in the possession of a third party. Whatever the reason may be, lost evidence may have been of great significance to your defence and it is crucial that the appropriate steps are taken so that a formal application be brought before a judge, requesting the charges be withdrawn.
The Crown’s duty to provide disclosure and issues relating to the production of disclosure is one of the most important aspects of a person’s defence to any criminal charges.
The first court appearance is NOT your trial date.
The first court appearance is typically very brief and more of an administrative nature. You will likely appear before a justice of the peace (who wears a green sash) and not a judge (who wears a red sash), possibly receive disclosure from the Crown Attorney and be asked whether you have retained a lawyer or whether you plan on retaining a lawyer, and finally asked if you can attend on the next date they have selected.
If you haven’t retained a lawyer, you can expect to wait a long time until your matter is called by the Crown Attorney.
If you have retained a lawyer from Farjoud Law, you can expect not to attend on your first court appearance because we will be attending on your behalf.
YES, we provide all clients with a cost-free initial consultation. The initial consultation is an opportunity for our criminal lawyer to review your disclosure and understand the case against you in order to identify, determine and advise regarding:
- any legal issues and/or Charter violations
- potential defences available
- criminal process and your options
- how you want to proceed
- retainer fees
A Criminal Lawyer, licensed and in good standing with the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) will handle ALL aspects of your matter. We do NOT delegate any work to paralegals or students as we understand the significant consequences associated with criminal charges and the expectation that people who pay for a criminal lawyer, want the legal expertise, knowledge and skills of an experienced criminal lawyer.
Please bring the following to our first meeting:
- at least one piece of government-issued identification (drivers license, passport, etc)
- all documents relating to your criminal charges
- documents provided by the police (promise to appear, undertaking,etc)
- documents provided by the Courts (recognizance of bail)
- documents provided by the Crown Attorney (disclosure)
- anything else you think is important (photos, videos, list of witnesses)
Every case is unique and a variety of factors must be considered before we can determine the cost. For this reason, we prefer to meet with you in person in order to review your case, explain your options and determine how you want to proceed.
Our clients typically prefer a block fee, as opposed to being billed hourly. A block fee arrangement allows clients to know exactly how much our legal services will cost.
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