If I have been charged, do I have a criminal record?
No, being charged with a criminal offence is not the same as being convicted. Being charged are allegations that you committed a criminal offence. An accused person is deemed innocent, and only get a criminal record if they are convicted with a registerable sentence.
What will happen after I am charged with a criminal offence?
After being charged with any criminal offence, you will need to appear in court for a first court appearance. Your first appearance is not a trial.
If you have retained a lawyer, your lawyer will have you sign a “designation of counsel”. This document gives the lawyer authority to appear on your behalf, so that you do not need to attend court at each appearance. At your first appearance, your lawyer will file the designation of counsel and request the initial disclosure. Your matter will be adjourned to a later date so that your lawyer can begin working on your case.
What is disclosure?
Disclosure is the evidence that is in the possession of the Crown Attorney and is being relied on to prosecute an accused. Disclosure can include statements, interviews, police notes, videos, audio recordings, warrants among other items. A lawyer will request and received the disclosure from the Crown Attorney’s office. Once it is received, the lawyer will review these documents. If there are still outstanding items, the lawyer will make additional requests for missing or outstanding items of disclosure. This process can happen several times before defence counsel has all or a substantial amount disclosure.
What is a Crown Resolution Meeting or Crown Pre-Trial?
A Crown Pre-Trial is a meeting between defence counsel and the Crown Attorney’s office to discuss the case. Issues that may be discussed are: disclosure issues, variation of conditions, early intervention programs, early resolution and/or trial.
This is an important step in the criminal proceeding because it allows defence counsel and the Crown Attorney an opportunity to explore resolutions to avoid a trial. Most cases require multiple or ongoing discussions with the Crown Attorney’s office. Most of our cases are resolved through this negotiation process.
What is a variation of Bail or a variation of an Undertaking?
In many cases, a client will want to have their release conditions changed or varied. The request needs to be done on the correct form and through the Crown Attorney’s office.
In domestic violence cases, we frequently negotiated variations of the conditions so that the client can resume communication and/or contact with the complainant. The Crown Attorney will review the request on a case by case basis to make a determination if they will agree to vary the conditions. At times, the Crown will want the accused to have grounded reasons for the request and to demonstrate that they are no longer a risk or a threat. This can sometimes be achieved through counselling, good behaviour since the date of the incident, and other documentation, such as letters of reference.
If a Crown does not consent to the variation, the client will need to apply to the Superior Court for a bail review.
How long will it take to resolve my case?
The starting point is to determine if you are charged with a summary offence or an indictable offence. Section 11(b) of the Charter of Rights and Freedom gives an accused person the right to be tried within a reasonable amount of time. The Supreme Court of Canada quantified the term “reasonable amount of time” to mean 18 months for a summary offence and 30 months for an indictable offence.
However, most cases do not proceed to trial. In fact, the majority of our files resolve without a trial and well before the 18 month or 30 month markers.
On the other hand, it is highly unlikely that a matter will resolve on the first or second appearance. Most cases will last for several months until we are in a position to finally resolve the matter.
How much does it cost to retain Gilbert Barristers & Solicitors?
Our standard initial retainer is $2500 plus HST. This money is deposited into our trust account and is used for future legal services. It is a way that lawyer guarantee that they will be paid for their services. Total fees typically cost more than the initial retainer. You will need to speak to one of our lawyers to get an estimate for the total cost of your matter.
What is a Trust Account?
A trust account is an account where Gilbert Barristers & Solicitors holds client money in trust. Trust money is not Gilbert Barristers & Solicitors’ money, it is our client’s money. Only after we provide legal services are the funds billed and transferred to our general account. We email a detailed invoice to our clients each month, this includes your trust account balance on the bottom of invoice so you always know how much money you have in trust. If a matter resolves and there is money left in trust, that trust money is returned to the client.
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