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FAQs about Criminal Charges

Is it possible to alter existing bail conditions after being released from custody?

For example, you were released from custody with the condition of a driving curfew, but the curfew isn’t compatible with your work schedule. As long as there is a valid reason, such as driving in order to get to work, you should be able to alter the agreed upon bail conditions with the Crown consenting to the change. Sometimes, you will need to undergo a contested hearing before the Crown allows the change. During the contested hearing, it is still important to follow the current bail conditions.

What is a bail hearing?

After the arrest of an accused person, the police may hold the accused for what is called a Bail Hearing or a Show Cause Hearing. This hearing leaves the Court to determine if the accused person could be released before the trial. They will base their decision on the arguments of both the Crown lawyer and the accused person’s lawyer. Usually the accused person is brought to the bail hearing in handcuffs.

It helps the accused person if the accused has friends or family members who can act as sureties, who are people that can supervise the accused up until the trial is resolved. The surety will most of the time have to pledge an amount of money for the release of the accused.

Can an accused person still be released after being arrested?

After an accused person is held in custody for a criminal charge, the person can still be released from the police station as long as the person is given a document. Most of the time this is the “Promise to Appear”, and it will contain the time, date and place of the person’s court appearance for the charge. The person will have to adhere to the instruction of this document. Otherwise, an additional charge may be placed on the person, that of a Failure to Appear in Court. You will not have to appear however, as long as the person has a criminal lawyer and there is a signed document designating the lawyer to appear on the behalf of the accused person.

What are my rights that I can invoke in the face of criminal charges?

Right to Silence
This is guaranteed by section 7 of the Charter of Rights. It basically means that any person can either speak or remain silent, according to his proper judgment and that a person does not have to disclose information if he doesn’t want to, especially if that information can be used against him.

Right to be Presumed Innocent
Just because a person has been accused of an alleged crime does not mean that that person is automatically guilty. This can be applied during the trial, as any person is deemed innocent only unless there is evidence showing that the person is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Right to be Promptly Informed of the Reason for Detention / Arrest
Any person has to be informed on why they are being arrested. If the police don’t give any clear reason, then the arrest cannot be valid and the court won’t allow the use of any evidence they may be able to get.

Right to a Lawyer
This means that no matter what the situation, you have every right to seek counsel from your lawyer and the police should not stop you from doing so. Once you demand to speak to your lawyer, then the police should stop whatever they are doing in order to assist you.

Right to a Fair Trial
Under section 7 of the Charter of Rights, you have every right to get a fair trial that follows an acceptable procedure.

What are my rights as protected by the law?

Every person has rights that are guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which limits what can be done against persons, even alleged criminal offenders. This should be considered as a guideline for you to make sure that you are receiving fair and just treatment in case of a criminal charge. Your rights in criminal law are what maintain your relationship to the government, the police and the justice system. A few of these basic rights are as follows:

  1. Right to silence
  2. Right to be presumed innocent
  3. Right to be promptly informed of the reason for detention or arrest
  4. Right to a lawyer
  5. Right to a fair trial

Before I first meet my lawyer, what are the things that I will need to furnish for him?

It is important that your lawyer knows everything that’s going on in this case. Therefore, you should give your lawyer all pertinent documents and papers that can be relevant as evidence in your case. If you know any possible witnesses, it is always best to make a list of them as well as their contact information so that your lawyer can contact them and they can be able to assist you.

Isn’t it better to just plead guilty and not spend so much time and effort in court?

Think of the possible consequences of getting a criminal record. It will affect your professional life and, if you ever have to find work again, not a lot of companies will accept ex-convicts as employees. Your relationships will also be greatly affected, especially the ones with your family and close friends. In the end, you have a lot more to lose if you plead guilty.

It is better to consult with a criminal lawyer first before making any pleas. A good criminal defence is usually very technical and a good criminal lawyer may still be able to find a technicality that can get you off the hook and help you prove your innocence.

Can I discuss my case with my family?

If you are an alleged suspect in a criminal case, then it gets difficult to disclose pertinent details regarding your case even to family members and close friends. They may only be utilized by the police for their case against you and may even use them as witnesses who may testify against you. In the end, you can only be protected by the solicitor-client confidentiality rule, meaning you can discuss your case only to your lawyer, who cannot be compelled to disclose your information.

Will a teenager who has been accused of a criminal offence need a lawyer?

Contrary to popular belief, a minor’s criminal findings of guilt will stay with that minor until he has passed a specified “Non-disclosure period” without any other offenses. A young person’s records do not simply disappear once that youth turns 18. This may be a problem especially when that person attempts to look for work and the job requires a security clearance from the government to see if the person has had a criminal record.

What is a Criminal Record?

A Criminal Record is a list of convictions for each and every person who has already been convicted due to criminal offences they have committed. It does not contain a list of those who have been formally discharged by court. Conditional charges are also kept in the same system but they are subsequently expunged from the records after three years when the conditions for the sentence have all been fulfilled. You will normally see in a criminal record the name of the person, date of birth and personal characteristics, as well as a list of their criminal convictions. The Criminal Records are kept and maintained by the RCMP.

What is a Criminal Charge and why do I have one?

A Criminal charge is a way for the court to formalize allegations against you that they have reason to believe that you committed a crime listed in the Criminal Code of Canada. This is the way a court proceeding usually begins. When you have a criminal charge, the court is required to disclose to you the particulars of the allegation, to allow you to properly defend yourself from the trial to follow that will determine whether you are innocent of guilty of the alleged crime.

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