CRIMINAL COURT PROCESS FAQ
Being charged with a criminal offense, no matter how minor, is a serious event for anyone. If you believe that you may be charged or have been charged, to the best course of action is to seek official legal advice. Whether advice would be best garnered from a Toronto bail lawyer, drug lawyer, or DUI lawyer depends on your specific case, as we aim to provide legal counsel that is specified to your needs. This article is no substitute for legal advice, but will rather outline the criminal process in the Toronto and the surrounding area courthouses.
RIGHT TO SILENCE AND A LAWYER
HAVE YOU BEEN CHARGED WITH A CRIMINAL OFFENCE?
Nothing substantive will happen on your first appearance, it is not a trial date.
Disclosure will usually include police notes, statements by witnesses, photographs and any other evidence that is relevant to your case. The first appearance is not your trial date.
During the crown pre-trial it is common to discuss whether the matter will go to trial or whether it will resolve by way of a plea or in some other fashion. Your lawyer and the crown attorney may discuss the appropriate sentence if the accused wishes to plead guilty. In the alternative, your lawyer and the crown attorney will discuss the length of the trial, the number of witnesses required and what evidence the parties wish to rely on.
Your lawyer may wish to set a judicial pre-trial at the end of his/her discussions with the Crown Attorney for various strategic reasons.
The judge may also provide input as to the appropriate sentence if the matter does resolve and the accused wishes to enter a plea of guilty. In the alternative, if the parties cannot reach an agreement, the judge will provide input to help the parties narrow the issues for trial and determine the appropriate length for the trial.
Your lawyer will also discuss what type of sentence may be imposed if the accused decides to plead guilty, but the final decision as to the appropriate sentence always lies with the judge.
The crown will try to prove their case by calling witnesses to testify and by leading other evidence. Your lawyer will have an opportunity to question the crown’s witnesses afterwards, it is at this stage where trials are usually won or lost. A well prepared, experienced lawyer will know how to poke holes in the stories from crown witnesses, bringing the credibility of their witnesses into question. In some instances, your lawyer may want to bring a charter application to exclude certain evidence that may have been obtained illegally. An experienced, knowledgeable lawyer will be your best defence in assuring the best possible outcome in your case. It is imperative that you select a lawyer that has the experience and the ability to dedicate enough time to devise a winning strategy for trial.
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