Criminal law is unlike any other area of law. The standard of proof to convict someone charged with a crime is the highest in Canadian Law. In order to be proven guilty of an offence under the criminal code or other criminal legislation the Crown prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the offense. If you are convicted of a criminal offense it can seriously harm the remainder of your life. A criminal record can affect your ability to obtain employment, your ability to obtain education, and can limit your ability to travel.
It is important when charged with a criminal offence to listen and not speak. You have the right to remain silent and the police will attempt to interrogate you and influence you to break your silence in order to obtain evidence against you. It is extremely important that you maintain your right to remain silent.
The Crown prosecutors have charge approval and will review an investigation package by the police to determine whether or not the charges have a substantial likelihood of conviction and whether there is a public interest to proceed with the prosecution.
If the Crown is going to proceed with charges the individual will either be released or will have to run a bail hearing to determine whether or not they should be released pending resolution of the proceeding. It is important to provide the court with a plan such as a stable residence and connections to the community and employment, a cash deposit or a surety. If the individual is released they will have to be placed on conditions and if a person breaches those conditions they may be charged with a new criminal offence. If an individual is detained in custody they will have to remain at one of the pretrial correctional institutions pending a trial or a guilty plea.
If a person is guilty it is important to develop a plan to address the underlying problems that led to the behavior relating to the criminal offense. For example, if an accused is an alcoholic it is usually very effective in helping a person avoid a criminal record and obtaining a resolution that will not predominately affect the rest of their lives if they address the concern over the use of alcohol by counseling sessions or support group meetings to address those concerns. It is important when obtaining a lawyer to fully disclose any underlying problems that may have led to criminal activity or conflict in order to create the best possible plan to ensure the best possible results.
If an individual did not commit the offence and they must run a trial. The Crown is required to provide witnesses and produce evidence before the court that is going to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the individual charged is the individual who committed the offense and the individual charged committed all elements of the offense. The Crown must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the individual did what they are charged with doing and intended to do what they are charged with doing. It is important that a lawyer reviews your case to determine if there are any technical defects in the evidence that could lead to an acquittal.