Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions about the Canadian Criminal Justice System

Being investigated, arrested and/or charged with a criminal offence can be a very stressful and scary situation. It does not have to be. Equipped with the knowledge of your rights, court procedures and the legal terminology most often used in court can greatly assist a client throughout the entire court process.

The following resources attempt to answer some of the questions you may have about the Canadian criminal justice system:

  • What does it cost to hire a criminal defence lawyer?
    Explaining the fee structure for hiring a criminal defence lawyer in Toronto:

    Every case is different. Determining the cost of defending a case will depend upon a number of factors including the nature of the criminal law problem to be solved, its complexity, and the legal objectives sought to be accomplished.

    Daniel Brown will normally discuss his fees at the end of the first client meeting after he has assessed the type of criminal problem facing his client and understood the complexity of the work involved. The fees and services are always clearly set out in writing, and Daniel Brown generally bills on a block-fee basis, not hourly.

    Most of Daniel Brown’s clients prefer block-fee billing as it provides a degree of certainty about their legal expenses from the outset of their case.

    Block-fee billing also allows Daniel’s clients to rest easier knowing they can consult with him without added cost and without fear that their matter may be unduly prolonged in court at their expense.

    With a block-fee bill, it is in both the client’s interest and the lawyer’s interest to address the criminal matter as quickly and efficiently as possible.

    Daniel Brown accepts Visa, MasterCard, Interac, Certified Cheque or Money Order.

  • Understanding criminal court procedure in Canada
    Criminal Court Procedure

    Generally, every person charged with a criminal offence in Canada will go through a similar court procedure. Outlined below is some of what you can expect to happen during the course of a criminal charge.

    Frequently asked questions about what happens during the criminal court process:
    What happens at my first court appearance?

    Your first appearance is NOT your trial. None of the witnesses or police officers involved in your case will be there. It is NOT an opportunity to tell the judge your side of the story. The central purpose of your first appearance in court will be to obtain the details of the allegations against you.

    Any evidence the prosecutor intends to use against you at your trial MUST be disclosed to you in advance. This procedure is called obtaining “disclosure”. Your disclosure package may include, police or other witness statements, surveillance videos, photographs or any other type of evidence that relates to your case.

    The prosecutor must disclose ALL relevant materials to you, regardless of whether they assist the prosecutor’s case or not. Evidence in the possession of the prosecutor or police that points towards your innocence must also be disclosed to you.

    Obtaining full disclosure in your case is crucial as disclosure will tell your lawyer almost everything they need to know about the strength of the prosecutor’s case against you and how to best defend against the charges you are facing.

    Quite often, disclosure will not be provided on your first appearance in court. If disclosure is not available, you (or your lawyer on your behalf) will have to return to court on another occasion to obtain it from the prosecutor in court. The nature and complexity of the allegations will usually dictate how quickly disclosure is provided. The more serious or complex a case is, the longer it usually takes to obtain full disclosure of the case.

    Do I need a lawyer to attend my first appearance in court?

    Prior to your first appearance, you can retain a lawyer to attend court with you or even to attend your court appearances on your behalf, depending on your agreement with your lawyer. Your lawyer is there to speak for you, so you don’t have to worry about saying the wrong thing. In most courthouses, the Crown Attorney will give priority to the cases where a lawyer is present in court PRIOR to dealing with any cases involving unrepresented accused persons. Many accused persons retain lawyers prior to their first appearance in court.

    What is a crown pre-trial/ resolution meeting?

    The pre-trial/resolution meeting between your lawyer and the Crown Attorney usually takes place over the telephone after disclosure has been received and reviewed by your counsel and the prosecutor.

    Typically what is first discussed at this meeting is whether or not the prosecutor intends to proceed on the charges as laid. In some instances, it is possible for the lawyer to convince the prosecutor not to proceed with the case at all. In the event they wish to continue the prosecution, the prosecutor and defence lawyer may discuss whether the accused person will be pleading guilty or not guilty. A not guilty plea will likely result in a trial.

    If the accused person intends on pleading guilty, the Crown will usually outline the charge or charges they require the accused to plead guilty to, the facts surrounding the allegations to be accepted as part of the guilty plea and what the appropriate sentence may be. The types of charges an accused will plead guilty to and the type of sentence they will receive are things lawyers commonly negotiate.

    If the case will be heading to trial, the prosecutor and defence lawyer may discuss which witnesses are required for trial and may estimate the length of trial time required to hear the matter so an appropriate trial date can be obtained.

    Depending on the complexity of the case, or whether or not defence counsel and the prosecutor can agree on the resolution position for a guilty plea, one of the parties may request a judge to become involved in the pre-trial discussions and act as a mediator. This meeting with the judge is referred to as a judicial pre-trial.

    What is a judicial pre-trial?

    In some cases, either the prosecutor or defence counsel may request the assistance of a judge during the pre- trial discussions. A judge may give their opinion on the merits of the case in an attempt to sway one side or the other towards a fair compromise. A judge may also give their opinion on an appropriate sentence in the event of a guilty plea or assist with estimating the duration of time required should the case go to trial. It is often a strategic decision to involve a judge in pre-trial discussions. Every case is fact-specific. After a judicial pre-trial is completed and assuming Crown counsel wishes to continue the prosecution, an accused person will have to make the decision to go to trial or to resolve their matter by way of a guilty plea. A judge’s opinion presented during a judicial pre-trial is not binding on the parties.

    Should I plead guilty?

    A guilty plea requires admitting the facts that form the basis of the charge or charges before the court. Before you decide to plead guilty, you should understand what the crown is seeking on a plea. Do they want to send you to jail? Are they seeking a permanent criminal record? You should also be aware of any potential consequences pleading guilty will have on your ability to travel abroad and the potential consequences a finding of guilt would have on your immigration status or future employment opportunities. A finding of guilty may also be used in other types of court proceedings such as civil or family law cases arising out of the criminal law matter. All too often, people plead guilty without understanding the full implications of their decision.

    Once you have decided to plead guilty, a date is scheduled for the guilty plea to take place. In some cases, the plea may take place before the judge who participated in the judicial pre-trial (if one has occurred) but this is not always the case, nor is it necessary. One of the most important aspects of a guilty plea is the sentencing hearing that occurs after the plea. In some cases, the prosecutor and defence counsel may jointly ask for the same sentence. In other cases the prosecutor and defence counsel may disagree on the appropriate sentence resulting in both parties asking the judge for completely different sentencing outcomes. Ultimately, it is up to the judge to impose the appropriate sentence based on the specific facts of each case and the details of the offender being sentenced. In the event that an accused person does not wish to plead guilty, a trial date is scheduled.

    Should I take my case to trial?

    A criminal case has usually gone through several stages before a trial date is selected. This includes the evidence gathering stage and the negotiation stage. A trial usually occurs several months (sometimes even a year or longer) after the offence was alleged to have occurred depending on the availibility of the court, witnesses and lawyers involved in the matter.

    At trial, the prosecutor will lead evidence from witnesses and other sources to demonstrate that you are guilty of the offences before the court. Your defence lawyer will have an opportunity to question any witness called by the prosecution to undermine the evidence they are presenting. A defence lawyer may also try to prevent evidence from being heard in court on the basis that it was illegally obtained or unreliable. Once the Crown believes they have established proof of your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, they will rest their case. At this point, you may choose to testify or call evidence on your own behalf to challenge the Crown’s case against you.

    A decision to take a case to trial normally depends on the evidence presented against you, the potential consequences of losing a trial and the evidence available for you to present in your own defence.

    Do I need a lawyer to assist me with my criminal case?

    Hiring a lawyer to work with you through the entire court process will ensure that you are properly represented at each and every stage of the proceedings. A lawyer is not just for someone who intends on having a trial. Your lawyer is there to ensure that your interests are always protected. This is crucial to ensuring a winning strategy and a positive outcome in your case regardless of whether or not your case goes to trial or not.

    To review your criminal case, Daniel Brown can be reached at (416) 297-7200.

  • What are my legal rights?
    Knowing Your Legal Rights:

    Whether or not you have been charged with a crime, it is important to know your legal rights, particularly when it comes to dealing with the police. The most important thing to remember is the right to remain silent and the right to retain and instruct counsel without delay. Remaining silent or asking to speak with a lawyer does not mean you are guilty. Even people wrongly accused of a crime require the help of a professional to guide them through the process and help them avoid the pitfalls of the criminal justice system.

    If you are facing a criminal charge, or currently under investigation by police, you should consult with a criminal lawyer as soon as possible for advice on how to proceed. The following are a list of important rights and protections afforded to all Canadians:

    The right to remain silent:

    While the police have a right to ask questions of anyone during their investigation, you are under no legal obligation to answer any of their questions. This applies not only to people under arrest but also people under investigation and even to witnesses of a crime. The right to silence in Canadian law is a principle of fundamental justice constitutionally guaranteed by section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The purpose of this protection is to allow a person to make meaningful choices about whether to speak with the police or remain silent in the face of a criminal allegation. Anything said to the police may find its way before the court as evidence. The rules of evidence are such that statements favourable to the accused in a criminal trial rarely get before the court, but incriminating or ambiguous statements often end up as part of the evidence against the accused at trial. It is important to rely on the right to silence until you have met with a criminal lawyer to obtain the best legal advice you can find.

    The right to retain and instruct counsel without delay upon detention or arrest:

    If you talk to the police, then they will almost always be able to use what you say as evidence against you in court. Expressing your desire to speak with a lawyer upon a detention or arrest legally obligates the police to refrain from asking you questions until they provide you with the opportunity to speak to any lawyer you choose. If you do not have a lawyer, then the police will have an obligation to provide you with a free “Legal Aid” lawyer for advice.

    The right to counsel is one of the most important rights in Canadian criminal law because it guarantees that individuals can have the opportunity to have matters explained to them by an experienced criminal defence lawyer to ensure you understand what your rights are in the circumstances, and advise you on how to best defend the charges. After you have spoken with a lawyer, the police can continue to ask you questions and it will be up to you to decide whether or not you wish to answer them. Remember that anything you tell the police can be used in court to prosecute you or someone else.

    The right to be promptly informed of the reason for detention or arrest:

    If there are reasonable grounds to suspect a person is connected to a particular crime, the police may detain an individual for further investigation. Upon detention, The police must inform the detainee of the reasons they are being detained. An “investigative detention” must be brief as it is not an arrest. What all of this means is that the police are not allowed to stop a person on the street for no reason to question them. Detained individuals are under no obligation to answer any questions posed to them by the police.

    Any person arrested by the police also has the right to be informed about all of the charges they are facing. A person under arrest also has no obligation to speak with the police.

    The right to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure:

    Everyone in Canada is guaranteed not to be subject to a search or seizure unless it is done in accordance with Canadian law. This means that we should be free from having the police search our houses, vehicles or our personal property without a good reason for doing so. The police need more than mere speculation or a hunch to search – they need lawful authority to do so. In the case of a home, the lawful authority usually comes in the form of a search warrant authorized by a judge which permits them to enter and search a specific place for a fixed period of time.

    Unreasonable searches can also include a search that was conducted in an excessive or abusive manner. Examples include unjustified strip searches or the executing search warrants which result in excessive and unnecessary damage to one’s property.

    If a search is “unreasonable”, a defendant can apply to the trial judge for a remedy. The usual remedy is to exclude at trial the evidence that flows from the violation of this right. A judge may also stay (dismiss) the charges on account of the unreasonable police conduct.

    The right to a trial in a reasonable amount of time:

    Every criminal case has a potential expiry date. Depending on the type of charge, the complexity of the case and the speed in which it passed through the court system, a person may argue to the trial judge that the case took too long to prosecute and should be stayed as a result.

    A stay (dismissal of the charge) for unreasonable delay is a significant remedy granted by the judge and will only be given where it is clear that the accused person’s fair trial rights have been compromised by the excessive delay. Before granting a stay, the court will look at the reasons why the case took so long to come to trial in addition to examining how that length of time that has already passed has affected the accused person and their case. The right to a reasonable trial ensures that a person accused of a criminal charge will not unduly wait for an outcome to their criminal law matter.

    The right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty:

    The police and the prosecution bear the burden in law of proving the crime alleged against you beyond a reasonable doubt. You are guilty only if you plead guilty, or if you are found guilty after a trial. A person charged with a crime is never asked to prove their innocence. If a judge has a reasonable doubt regarding your guilt (ie: you might not be guilty), you cannot be convicted because you are presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by the prosecutor.

  • How do I change my bail conditions?
    How to Legally Change Bail Conditions

    This article examines how to change or modify your bail conditions for criminal charges in Toronto, Ontario. Those looking to change or modify a condition of their bail should consult a criminal lawyer. For information on the bail hearing process, read my article on understanding bail hearings.

    Frequently asked questions about changing bail conditions:

    Once bail is granted in court, the conditions set out in the recognizance of bail (bail document) are difficult to change without a great deal of time and effort exercised on the part of the lawyer.

    In order to understand why this is so, one must understand how the bail system works in Canada.

    For almost all offences (except murder, treason and a few other of Canada’s most serious crimes), bail is granted in the provincial court by either a Judge or Justice of the Peace.

    Once bail is granted (or denied), no other judge or justice of the peace at the provincial court level can review that decision or the conditions of bail imposed by the original judge or justice. The only instance where a provincial court judge or justice can modify an existing bail condition is with the agreement of the Crown Attorney. Otherwise, an accused person must bring a formal application to review the bail conditions before a Judge in the Superior Court of Justice.

    What is the easiest way to get a bail condition changed?

    The easiest (and least expensive) way to get a bail condition changed is to convince a prosecutor to agree to the change without requiring a bail review hearing. This is also likely the quickest option available to someone looking to modify their bail.

    However, prosecutors rarely modify or eliminate conditions imposed by a Judge or Justice without good reason for doing so. If a curfew condition was imposed by a Judge, the prosecutor is unlikely to remove that condition without a compelling reason provided by the accused.

    For example, a prosecutor may agree to allow an exception to a curfew or house arrest condition for a specific purpose such as attending work or school. They are unlikely to simply eliminate the condition all together.

    How can I convince the prosecutor to change my bail?

    When requesting a change of bail from the prosecutor, having supporting documentation such as a travel itinerary for an upcoming vacation, proof of employment or proof of school registration are often essential tools to assist the prosecutor with making their decision. The better the documentation presented, the more likely a prosecutor will agree to modify the bail as requested.

    What if the prosecutor doesn’t agree with the proposed bail variation?

    If the prosecutor does not agree to change the conditions of bail, the only other remedy is to bring a bail review application before a Superior Court Judge.

    Can anyone request a change of bail conditions in Superior Court?

    It is not enough to simply want a bail condition changed before you can bring an application in Superior Court. An accused person must also show that the judge or justice who imposed the original bail conditions made either an error of law by imposing the conditions they did or that there has been a material change in the accused person’s circumstances to warrant the change of bail conditions.

    What is an error of law?

    An example of an error of law may be found where the judge at the original bail hearing imposed a condition limiting the accused person’s ability travel by requiring them to deposit their passport with the police due to fears the accused would not show up for their trial where the evidence heard at the bail hearing would not support such an inference to be drawn.

    What is a material change of circumstances?

    An example of a material change of circumstances may be where an accused person seeks to relax strict bail conditions such as a curfew condition after certain serious charges against him, previously justifying the curfew were withdrawn.

    What is required to bring a bail review in Superior Court?

    Once an error of law or material change of circumstances exists, bringing an application to have a bail condition varied in Superior Court requires certain paperwork to be filed with the court before the application will be heard.

    One of the items that must be filed with the application is a complete transcript of the original bail hearing so that the judge reviewing the bail conditions can see why a certain condition was imposed in the first place.

    Typically this bail transcript takes one to two weeks from the date it is ordered before it is ready and costs $3.20 per page. A lengthy bail hearing may cost several hundred dollars to be transcribed.

    Also required as part of the bail review application are affidavits (sworn statements) from both the accused person and anyone else who has agreed to supervise the accused person on bail (sureties).

    After a date is affixed, the lawyer, along with the accused person and any other persons associated with the bail supervision plan (sureties) will be required to appear before the Judge in the Superior Court to establish why the original bail should be modified. This is often an all day process.

    How quickly can a bail review be heard in court?

    Once the paperwork for the application is assembled, the Court requires at least two business days notice before the application can be argued before a judge.

    After a date is affixed, the lawyer, along with the accused person and any other persons associated with the bail supervision plan (sureties) will be required to appear before the Judge in the Superior Court to establish why the original bail should be modified. This is often an all day process.

    How much does a bail review cost?

    As you can see, a great deal of time, effort and money may be expended in an attempt to vary a bail condition that the Crown Attorney will not otherwise agree to change. Sometimes, the costs associated with attempting to change a bail condition may cost as much, if not more, than the costs of defending the original criminal charge. Costs are assessed on a case by case basis and will be determined based on the complexity of the issues and the length of time required to prepare and argue the bail review application.

    Contact Daniel Brown at (416) 297-7200 to arrange a consultation to determine whether or not you, or someone you know, may be eligible for a bail review.

  • How do I choose the right criminal defence lawyer to represent me?
    How do I choose the right lawyer for my case?

    In addition to the obvious considerations such as price, office location, specialized expertise, and prior success, the most important consideration when choosing your legal counsel is whether you and your lawyer are able to get along and have a frank, respectful, and open discussion about your legal problem.

    Being charged with a criminal offence can be very stressful. The criminal justice process may be quite lengthy and intimidating. Your criminal charges may cause you difficulties with your employment, ability to travel, immigration status, and personal relationships.

    People charged with criminal offences often feel that their whole life is put on hold. While it is important to have support from your family and friends whenever possible, having effective and open communication with your lawyer may provide a considerable degree of comfort when you are facing a criminal charge. The best lawyer for you will be someone you feel most comfortable working with and someone you feel can solve your criminal law problem both efficiently and effectively.

  • Canadian criminal court terminology: simplifying the legal jargon
    Criminal Court Terminology in Canada:

    This article attempts to explain many of the terms commonly used throughout the Canadian criminal court system.

    Accused person:

    The person who is charged with a criminal offence.


    An acquittal occurs when the accused person is found not guilty by a judge or jury.


    When the judge postpones the matter before the court to another date and time. The delay may be used to prepare a report, or to get a lawyer, or to prepare for trial.


    A statement by a victim of what happened.


    An appeal is a review by a higher court to determine the correctness of what happened at the trial and whether the trial was conducted fairly. Usually, appeals are based on the judge at the trial making a mistake in how he or she applied the law to the facts of the case. However, in some circumstance, an appeal can also be used to review whether the judge properly considered the evidence put forward at trial or whether the evidence was sufficient to support a conviction. Some appeals can also be argued on the basis of poor legal representation at trial. An appeal can be brought against a conviction or sentence.


    An arrest is when the police take a person into their custody to charge them with a criminal offence. Not everyone charged with a criminal offence will be arrested. Depending on the circumstances, the police can give a person an appearance notice, a written notice of the charge that says when the person has to go to court or, the police can arrest the person and take him or her to the police station.

    Bail Hearing:

    A court hearings to determine if an accused person should be held in custody pending the resolution or trial of their criminal case.


    CPIC is an acronym for the Canadian Police Information Center which manages a computerized database accessible to police officers throughout Canada. The database contains information about alleged offences, personal characteristics of suspects, cautionary warnings (e.g. Violent), a list of prior convictions and in some cases fingerprints. It is operated by the RCMP in Ottawa.


    Disclosure is the evidence gathered by the police with respect to an accused person’s case Disclosure is typically provided by the prosecutor in court and can include evidence such as police officer notes, statements from witnesses, photos or other relevant documents. Every accused person is entitled to have complete and timely disclosure of the case against him or her. This includes all materials, whether helpful or harmful to the accused person’s case, even if the Crown does not intend to use the materials at the trial of the accused person.This process of collecting disclosure is lengthy. It often takes months to obtain full disclosure in a criminal case. Reviewing disclosure is an essential component of a defending a criminal charge.


    Diversion is a method of resolving a case by having the accused person accept responsibility for his conduct and performing some community service, making a donation, attending counseling, writing a letter of apology or some combination of those or other good deeds. Once the good work is done to the satisfaction of the crown the charge is typically withdrawn (dropped) by the prosecutor. Diversion is an excellent option for those looking to avoid criminal records.


    A “factum” is a fancy name for a document that briefly outlines the facts of a case and the legal arguments that are going to be made during the hearing. When raising complex legal arguments, the court requires that a full outline of all the arguments and the law that the parties are going to rely upon be prepared in advance of the hearing and filed with the court in written form.

    Guilty Plea:

    A plea of “guilty” means that the accused admits responsibility for the crime. There will not be a trial and the victim does no have to go to court.

    Indictable Offence:

    Criminal offences are divided into two types, summary and indictable. Indictable offences are the more serious kind and can result in harsher punishment than do summary offences. They also entitle the accused to additional court procedures such as a preliminary inquiry and a jury trial.

    Judicial pre-trial:

    A Judicial pre-trial is an informal, off the record meeting involving the prosecutor, defence counsel and a Judge. The accused person is not present during the judicial pre-trial. Similarly to the Crown pre-trial, the participants typically discuss the anticipated duration of the trial and central issues to be dealt with at the trial. Resolution may also be discussed at the judicial pre-trial stage. Judges will often give recommendations to both sides about their respective case, but these recommendations are not binding on the parties.

    Peace Bonds:

    A peace bond is an official promise made by the accused person to the Court to abide by certain conditions (similar to a bail recognizance). A peace bond is not a criminal record, nor is it an admission of criminal wrongdoing. However, the accused person agrees that in the circumstances of the case, the alleged complainant has reasonable grounds to fear for his or her safety.

    Preliminary Hearing:

    The purpose of a preliminary hearing is to see if the Crown has enough evidence to justify sending the case to trial. It also gives accused and the defence lawyer a chance to hear the details of the case against the accused. If there is enough evidence presented by the Crown, the judge will send the accused to trial. If not, the charges will be dropped. Not every case has a preliminary hearing. Only cases prosecuted by way of indictment where the accused or prosecutor requests a preliminary hearing will have such a hearing as part of the case.

    Pre-trial meeting:

    A pre-trial is an informal meeting between the prosecutor and defence counsel to discuss an accused person’s case. This meeting may be held in person or over the phone. The accused person does not attend the meeting unless they are unrepresented by a lawyer. Some of the issues that may be discussed at the pre-trial meeting include missing disclosure, length of time for the trial, and the potential resolution of the charges (i.e. guilty plea, withdrawal, or diversion). This is a necessary step in any criminal case and helps to focus the issues at trial.


    Probation can be imposed on a person who has been found guilty of a criminal offence. It is intended to be a rehabilitative rather than a punitive tool. This is accomplished by requiring the offender to comply with certain obligations such as counseling or restricting the offender’s ability to contact or communicate with the victim of the crime. Probation is supervised by a probation officer who will supervise the offender for the length of the probation term.


    The lawyer who will present the evidence against the accused in court on behalf of the government. This person may also be called the Crown or the Crown Attorney.


    A person who is not released on an undertaking from the police station will be brought before a judge for a bail hearing. If a person is released after a bail hearing, they will be placed on a recognizance of bail requiring them to comply with conditions imposed on them by the judge.

    Retainer Agreement:

    The contract outlining the costs and terms of hiring a lawyer. A retainer agreement is usually signed when hiring a lawyer.

    Retaining Counsel:

    This refers to the process of hiring a lawyer to represent you by way of an agreed upon fee and payment schedule.

    Sentencing Hearing:

    At the sentencing hearing, a judge will listen to the plea, and listen to the facts of the case. Next, the Crown prosecutor will read the facts of the case in court. The accused or his/her lawyer will have a chance to speak to the judge and if the facts are agreed to by the accused, the judge will find the accused guilty. The Judge will then decide what the punishment will be after hearing from both the accused and the prosecutor. This is called a sentence.


    A subpoena is a Court order compelling a person to attend Court to give evidence at a trial or preliminary inquiry. If a person, after being properly served with a subpoena, fails to attend Court when directed, the Court may issue a material witness warrant, which authorizes the police to locate and arrest the person and to bring him or her before the Court to give evidence.


    A surety is a person who will supervise a bail order. The surety is responsibility for ensuring that the accused person will attend Court, abide by all of the bail conditions and stay out of further criminal trouble. In almost all cases, the surety will be required to pledge a sum of money to guarantee to the court that they will take their role as a surety seriously. A failure to properly supervise the accused person on bail may result in the monies pledged being forfeited.


    A trial is a court hearing to determine whether or not a person is guilty or not guilty of a criminal offence alleged against them. At trial, the Crown Attorney will present evidence through witnesses in order to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.


    An undertaking is a form of release given to an accused person by the police who wish to impose certain restrictions on an accused person’s liberty while awaiting trial but without requiring them to go through the process of a bail hearing. The police are limited in the the types of restrictions they are permitted to impose on a person’s liberty. Some examples of valid conditions can include non-association or non-communication restrictions with the complainant or other witnesses.

    Victim Impact Statement:

    At the time of sentencing, victims and their families can make a written or verbal statement to the judge about how they feel about what happened and what the effects of the crime are. In deciding what sentence the accused will receive, the judge can consider the victim impact statement along with the recommendations from the crown attorney and the defence attorney.

    Youth Court:

    The court that deals with criminal charges against a young person under the age of 18.

  • Is there any way to destroy the fingerprints and photographs taken by the police?
    Is there any way to destroy the fingerprints and photographs taken by the police?

    Quite often, an arrest on a criminal charge can have significant and long lasting consequences for a person accused of a crime, long after the charge is dropped or the person is found not guilty of the crime.

    Most people facing criminal charges are required to provide the police with photographs and fingerprints which can later be used to assist police in solving other criminal investigations.

    Only those persons facing summary conviction charges (such as marijuana possession or soliciting a prostitute for example) will be excused from providing their prints and photos.

    If the person charged is later acquitted of the crime or the charges are withdrawn or stayed by the Crown, a request can be made to the police to have the accused person’s photographs and fingerprints removed from the police database. In most instances, the police will comply with the request.

    The timing of the destruction of the prints and photos will depend on the manner in which the charges were disposed of and the policy of the police force responsible for the charges.

    If you are found guilty of a criminal offence, then your photographs and fingerprints will permanently remain on file with the police.

    Most police departments will have a minimum waiting period before a person can apply to have their fingerprints and photographs removed from the police database. In most cases, it is a minimum of a five month waiting period before the police will process the destruction request.

  • What should I do to prepare for my first meeting with a lawyer?
    What should I do to prepare for my first meeting with a lawyer?

    It is important to come prepared to your first meeting with a lawyer. This will allow you to ask any questions you have about the process and put you in a position to answer any questions the lawyer may have for you.

    You should bring all documents that you received from the police or the prosecutor to the meeting including disclosure or your bail papers. In addition, if you have any relevant documents, photographs or names of witnesses, you should also bring this information to the meeting as well.

    Another thing that is often useful to prepare in a criminal case is a written chronology or summary of your involvement in the matter. If you chose to bring a document like this to your first meeting, please ensure that any written documents that you create about your case should clearly be marked at the top with, “PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL – FOR MY LAWYER”. This ensures that your documents will not be used against you at trial in the event that they are lost, stolen, or confiscated by the police.

    It is best not to discuss your case or show your documents to anyone until you have had a chance to meet with a lawyer. Anyone you speak to about your case may become a witness against you (voluntarily or involuntarily at the request of the prosecutor). Only what is said in private to your lawyer is protected from potentially becoming evidence against you in your case.