If you have been arrested for a criminal offence in Mississauga, you may be wondering whether or not hiring a criminal defence lawyer is in your best interest, and two critical questions that will likely come to mind include whether or not the cost of a lawyer is worth it, along with whether or not a lawyer can truly make a difference in your outcome.
If the penalties you face from your potential conviction include prison or jail time, a Mississauga lawyer’s services are invaluable in preserving your freedom. In addition, considering these life-changing implications brought on by the permanent criminal record that comes with a criminal conviction is also essential when preparing for your trial:
- Potential employment denial
- License to practice denial for certain professions
- Risk of deportation and denial of residency or citizenship if you’re a non-resident
- Restrictions on visiting other countries
- Potential impediments to child custody and visitation rights
- Adoption denial
- Harsher sentencing if convicted of future criminal offences
Can a Mississauga Criminal Defence Lawyer Truly Make a Difference?
Section 10(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms gives everyone the right to consult with a lawyer “without delay” and mandates that police inform those they arrest of this right. Once informed of this right upon arrest, take advantage of it – even if you do not have a lawyer, ask to speak to the duty counsel until you can retain an outside lawyer.
Your lawyer or duty counsel will likely advise you to exercise your Section 11(c) Charter Right to remain silent. Depending on the charges, they can also advise you about any future actions you should take. Your own lawyer might also begin to review your arrest to assess whether or not police have conformed to other Charter Rights provisions.
Your Lawyer Can Help Secure Your Pre-Trial Freedom
You might be facing pre-trial incarceration if warranted by the severity of your criminal charges, and in order to avoid such pre-trial detention, you must successfully navigate the Ontario court system’s Judicial Interim Release (bail) process. If you fail to make bail, incarceration may compromise your ability to help strategize your criminal defence.
A skilled Mississauga criminal defence lawyer will begin working on your release immediately, and may be able to negotiate your release without a contested bail hearing. If a bail hearing becomes inevitable, your lawyer will help you navigate the complexities of the process, and:
- Seek a timely hearing
- Develop a strong argument in support of your release
- Seek the most favourable bail conditions possible
- Prepare any surety(ies), if needed, for courtroom questioning
- Assist with your compliance with release conditions
- Seek a bail review and/or judicial review if release is denied
- Defend against bail reviews mounted by the Crown
Your pre-trial release represents a successful start to your criminal defence efforts, and will enhance your lawyer’s effort to strategize an effective defence going forward.
Strategizing Your Defence
After your release, your lawyer will begin strategizing your defence and help navigate your course through several pre-trial procedures, including:
- First Appearance
- Crown Pre-Trial
- Judicial Pre-Trial
Your first appearance is an administrative function that the court uses to establish how your criminal case will proceed. During this appearance, you can advise the court on whether or not you plan to make a plea or request an adjournment to assess the Crown’s evidence.
The Crown also typically presents the defence with its evidence during this appearance in what’s known as “disclosure.” Thus, informing the court that you’re ready to make a plea at this juncture is usually premature.
With disclosure in hand, your lawyer will assess the evidence and strength of the Crown’s case against you to better determine viable options for an effective defence. Your lawyer will also ensure that the disclosure is complete and, if not, seek further disclosure from the Crown. This could necessitate a petition to the court and potential hearing(s) on the matter.
Once any potential disclosure issues have been resolved, your lawyer will meet with Crown prosecutors in pre-trial meetings to discuss the merits of the case and negotiate possible pre-trial outcomes. If your lawyer can showcase distinct evidence that supports your innocence or point out significant flaws with the Crown’s case, they might be able to get the charges dropped. Otherrwise, your lawyer and the Crown will negotiate a potential resolution that negates the need for a trial. Depending on the evidence and case details, positive resolutions might 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
If your lawyer and the Crown fail to reach a satisfactory resolution in these pre-trial meetings, the judge may order a judicial pre-trial conference. With the same aim as the Crown Pre-trial meetings, these negotiations are held with the judge as a mediator to resolve outstanding issues hindering an agreement.
Should the pre-trial maneuvering fail to produce results, you will most likely need to advance to trial, and your lawyer will begin planning for this stage of your defence. Note that nothing precludes your lawyer and Crown prosecutors from negotiating a resolution up to and during the trial.
Your Lawyer’s Work Up to and During Trial
Depending on your charges and case details, your Mississauga criminal defence lawyer may be able to turn to a wide range of criminal defence strategies. Your lawyer’s job is to determine which one(s) will be the most effective at securing an acquittal, dismissal, stay of charges, or other favourable outcome. They are also responsible for effectively mounting your defence during the trial.
Your lawyer has a slight edge over the Crown in defending you due to the fact that prosecutors must prove that you a.) committed the criminal act and b.) did so with intent and/or knowledge. The legal threshold for proving this must be “beyond a reasonable doubt,” as set out by the “presumed innocent until proven guilty” concept of common law. Thus, along with raising a specific defence, your lawyer will take every opportunity to raise doubts about the Crown’s evidence and narrative about the incident.
Your lawyer does not have to prove innocence if they can successfully cast doubt about the Crown’s case. Your lawyer will also present evidence or testimony to support your innocence to weaken the Crown’s case further.
Your Lawyer’s Post-Verdict Responsibilities
If your lawyer successfully helps you beat your charges with an acquittal, dismissal, stay, or related not-guilty outcome, their job is completed, and you’re free to go about your business. If not, they will negotiate behind-the-scenes in the courtroom to secure you the most favourable sentencing conditions possible. Your lawyer may also begin to strategize an appeal of the decision to a higher court.
At Vilkhov Law, our team of lawyers works tirelessly to ensure you receive the best possible outcome from your charges and trial. Reach out to a member of our team today to schedule your consultation.