Being arrested, investigated, or charged with a criminal offence can be an increasingly stressful situation for you if you don’t possess enough knowledge and understanding of the Canadian justice system. Knowing your legal rights, being aware of the standard court procedures, and recognising different legal terminologies most often utilised in the court of law can significantly help you throughout the entire court process.
Overall, everyone charged with a criminal offence will have to go through a similar court procedure in Canada, though each case is different from another. It’s best to hire an experienced criminal defence lawyer as soon as you get charged with a criminal felony. Usually, the cost of hiring a criminal lawyer depends on various factors, including the nature of the criminal law issue to be solved, the complexity of the case, and the legal objectives to be realised.
Here, we will provide answers to some of the frequently asked questions related to the Canadian criminal court process to give you a better insight into how the Canadian criminal legal procedure works.
What Happens At A First Court Appearance?
The first court appearance is a preliminary presence in the court of law which is by no means a trial. Neither police officers nor witnesses involved in your criminal case will be present in court on your first court appearance. It’s also not the time to tell the judge your side of the story regarding your legal matter. The main objective of your initial court appearance is to get the details of the accusations against you.
Any evidence or additional helpful material the prosecution has against you must be disclosed to your legal team in advance. This process is known as obtaining ‘disclosure.’ Your disclosure may consist of the police record, witness statement, surveillance video, pictures, or any other kind of evidence related to your criminal case.
Getting full disclosure in your case is vital as it will help your criminal defence attorney in preparing your case and defending you against the charges you’re facing.
What Is A Crown Pre-trial Or Resolution Meeting?
The pre-trial or resolution meeting between the Crown attorney and your lawyer typically happens over a telephone call after they receive and review disclosure. During this meeting, both legal parties discuss the nature of your legal matter, including:
- Whether or not the prosecutor wants to proceed with laid charges
- An effort by your lawyer to convince the prosecutor not to proceed with the case further
- If the case moves forward, both prosecution and your lawyer will discuss whether you will be pleading guilty or not
- Not pleading guilty will most probably result in a criminal trial against you
- Pleading guilty will result in the Crown outlining the charges they need you to plead guilty to, acceptance of all the facts about the allegations as part of the guilty plea, and the appropriate sentence you will receive
- Negotiations between two legal parties regarding the kind of charges you will plead guilty to and the kind of punishment you will receive
- In case of a trial, both legal sides may discuss the witnesses required for trial, and also estimate the trial length
If both legal sides cannot agree on the resolution position for a guilty plea, one may request the judge to be a part of the pre-trial discussions and act as a mediator between the two parties. This particular meeting with the judge is called a judicial pre-trial.
Should I Plead Guilty Of My Criminal Charges?
Pleading guilty of your criminal charges may have severe repercussions on your life in the future, including jail time, a permanent criminal record, international travel restrictions, limited employment opportunities, and more. It’s best to leave your legal matters in the hands of your expert lawyer who can form the best defence for your case during a trial or at least get you an appropriate settlement depending on the complexity of your case.
Should I Take My Criminal Case To A Trial?
The final decision about taking your criminal case to a trial depends on the nature of the evidence presented against you, possible consequences of a lost trial, and the nature of the evidence your lawyer can show in your defence during a trial.