What is my role as a criminal defence lawyer in Canada? What do I do for a living? How do I approach that? Well, first of all, as a criminal lawyer, I’m here to protect the rights of an accused who’s charged with a criminal offence.

Someone comes to me they’re charged with a criminal offence. From the start of the criminal process to the end, I’m here to ensure that their rights are protected. Now, the role of defence counsel is very much misunderstood by a lot of people or sometimes vilified, but I guess people only like criminal Counsel, defence Counsel, when they actually need one but the important thing is that we’re here. There’s ethical rules, we’re bound by them. We’re here to protect people. A large part of what we do, let’s face it, like 90 I don’t know what percent but I bet 90 Maybe 95% of criminal cases are resolved.

So our role is to review the disclosure, See if there’s a defence are there defendable issues review with the client their version of events, determine what the odds of winning are in many, if not most criminal matters, there’s no chance of winning or little chance of winning. And our role is all about negotiating, resolving the case, trying to find the appropriate sentence, if you will, because there is an appropriate sentence for every case. And that’s a very part big part of our role in the States. I guess they call this plea bargaining, which I don’t like that term is kind of a pejorative term. My role is to find what the appropriate when my client decides to plead guilty because he’s admitted his guilt is what counts is he pleading to or he or she pleading to what’s the appropriate range of sentence?

Can I get the crown to agree to that range, which a judge can attend judicial pretrial, can I get the judge to agree to it and then try and make sure that that penalty is minimized as much as possible? Now where’s what’s the fair penalty, sometimes the crown asks for outrageous type your sentences sometimes they agree with us, but it’s ultimately up to the judge and it’s up to me to try and convince the judge to give a fair range, if a person charged with a serious crime, sure they deserve to go to jail for a long period of time if they’re, if they’re charged with a sexual assault, for example. They deserve, a date rape with no physical injuries but psychological injuries, the range of sentences two to three years in Canada. What if the crown’s asking for five? Well, that’s not appropriate.

So we negotiate and appear in front of the judge. Now at trial I’m also in charge or responsible for protecting the rights of the accused testing the crown’s case, asking questions to show to try and create a reasonable doubt were my clients Charter rights protected, his or her constitutional rights. This is our role it’s all done within the bounds of ethics, rules of court, and it’s a very responsible position.

You know, we live in a democratic society, people have rights. And don’t think for a second that there’s not the odd, innocent person who’s charged with an offence, the bottom line. I mean, people have a hard time believing this now.  I can be here with a person as a male, another male and I could lie and show up at the police station and say that person assaulted me and easily get charges laid. It’s that simple. I know that most let’s face it, most people charged with a criminal offence are probably guilty. I don’t know what the statistics are and won’t get into them. But there are innocent people. I don’t know what the percentage is, but everyone deserves the same defence and that’s our role to protect the rights. There’s an old case called Bush versus the king which talks about the crown’s rule of defence’s role is all ethically set out and I have to follow those bounds. And that’s our role here. Ultimately, to protect our clients as best we can. Sometimes that means going to trial in the vast majority of cases, it means negotiating the best possible sentence and pleading to the appropriate counsel that they that they committed. So that’s it in a nutshell, what we do, what our role is that I’ve done for the last four years as a crown attorney, I did their job and now of last 29 years as a defence lawyer in Ontario.

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