With witnesses and physical evidence, the police and Crown prosecutors will be able to mount a solid case against the trio on multiple criminal charges in court. As such, it may seem that the three men should just plead guilty and serve their time.
However, as lawyers who provide criminal defence services to Brampton-area defendants, we say not so fast.
For starters, the men may be innocent, and Canadian jurisprudence relies on the common law concept of “presumed innocent until proven guilty.” The Section 10(b) Charter Right also details their right to consult with a lawyer, which may be able to influence their plea in securing the best outcome possible.
The First Step
The first step we at Vilkhov Law take with any criminal suspect who seeks our services is to advise them of their Section 11(c) Charter Right to remain silent – anything they say “can and will be used against [them] in a court of law.”
The second step in advancing our new client’s defence is to seek their freedom. Armed robbery is a serious offence, and our clients face a bail hearing in the Brampton Court of Justice where Crown prosecutors will undoubtedly seek pre-trial incarceration. However, we’d like to free our clients to make it easier to strategize a defence.
If our efforts to negotiate release without a contested bail hearing fail, we’ll also then begin efforts to seek their release through the Ontario court system’s Judicial Interim Release (bail) process. These efforts include:
- Pushing for a timely hearing
- Developing arguments supporting release
- Seeking favourable bail conditions
- Preparing the surety(ies) for courtroom questioning
- Seeking a bail review and/or judicial review if release is denied
- Defending against Crown-requested bail reviews
- Assisting with release conditions compliance
Strategizing Criminal Defence
No matter the outcome of our pre-trial release efforts, we’ve already begun strategizing our client’s defence, and our work goes into high gear once we’ve received the Crown’s disclosure of evidence and narrative of how the alleged criminal activity occurred.
Disclosure typically occurs during our client’s first appearance: an administrative function the court uses to determine how the case will proceed. While our clients have the right to inform the court that they plan to plead guilty, we would advise against this, as we have not yet had time to study the evidence at this point.
While assessing the evidence and relative strength of the Crown’s case, we will also ensure that the Crown has made a full disclosure. In many cases, Crown prosecutors omit relevant materials and/or evidence, and we may need to petition the court to hold a hearing to argue for additional disclosure.
Our strategy evolves based on the evidence, the apparent strength of the case, and our client’s wishes. If our client insists that they are innocent and wants to seek absolute exoneration, our ability to negotiate a settlement with the Crown is limited, and such negotiations occur during the next step in the case’s progression, the Crown pre-trial.
During these meetings, we negotiate the case’s merits and the evidence’s strengths and weaknesses. Our leverage in negotiations is enhanced if we can also provide distinct evidence supporting our client’s innocence, or uncover major flaws with the Crown’s case. Sometimes, we can even push the Crown to drop or stay charges. Other positive resolutions that can be negotiated during these meetings include:
- Pre-trial diversion
- Dropping some charges (in cases with multiple charges)
- Reduced charges
- No jail or prison time
- Suspended sentence
- Conditional sentence (home confinement)
- Absolute or Conditional Discharge
Should the Crown pre-trial fail to negotiate a settlement agreeable to both parties, efforts typically begin again with a judge serving as a mediator in what is known as the judicial pre-trial conference. If this effort also fails to produce a settlement, nothing precludes the Crown and defence from coming to an agreement up to and during trial.
Our Work Heading to Trial
If our pre-trial negotiations fail, we will turn our efforts into developing a viable defence to use at trial. Our job at this juncture is determining which of our numerous criminal defence strategies will most likely secure an acquittal, dismissal, stay of charges, or other favourable outcomes in Brampton court.
Along with advancing any viable defence strategies, our work at trial will involve disputing the Crown’s evidence and narrative about the case. To gain a conviction, the Crown must prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” two crucial elements: that our client truly committed the offence, and that they did so with intent and/or knowledge. Canadian courts have established that “beyond a reasonable doubt” is a high threshold. Hence, any doubts we can raise about the case narrative and evidence weaken the Crown’s overall case.
We do not have to prove our client’s innocence—the Crown must prove our client’s guilt. Naturally, we will also present any evidence or testimony that supports our client’s innocence, as this further weakens the Crown’s case.
Our Work is Done – Or is it?
Our work concludes if we secure a favourable resolution during pre-trial negotiations or beat the charges in court with an acquittal, dismissal, or stay of charges – that is, unless the Crown appeals the court’s decision, in which case we will need to begin work to challenge the appeal.
If the trial results in the conviction of our client, we will turn our attention to negotiating or otherwise securing the most positive sentencing terms possible. When viable, we will also begin investigating avenues for appealing your conviction. At Vilkhov Law, our team stops at nothing to ensure the best possible outcome for your trial and your case.