The Canadian Legal Process
Regardless of where you are in the criminal law process, it’s important to retain a criminal defence lawyer as early as possible to maximize the chances of the best outcome. Read on to learn more about the criminal process:
This is where the accused hires a lawyer, either through Legal Aid or privately. There are a number of different payment options available when retaining a defence lawyer privately.
Arrest & Bail Hearing
If someone has been arrested and is not released by the police, the accused will be taken to court and must appear before a Justice of the Peace within 24 hours of their arrest. At the bail hearing,a Justice of the Peace will decide if the accused can be released pending trial. It is important to have a lawyer represent the accused at all stages after arrest to maximize the chance of release under reasonable conditions.
First Court Appearance
The purpose of the First Court Appearance is more administrative in nature, which is to obtain disclosure and to indicate whether the accused has hired a lawyer. If a lawyer has been retained privately before the First Court Appearance, then that lawyer can often attend court with requiring the accused to be there.
Disclosed is all of the evidence the Crown Attorney intends to use related to the charges the accused is facing, such as witness statements, photography, notes from the police, etc. This initial disclosure will usually also indicate what sentence the Crown is seeking, both on an early resolution and after trial. These positions are often negotiable as a defence lawyer can often help to obtain a more favourable outcome than initially suggested by the Crown.
In most cases, charges are often resolved before a trial is even scheduled, be it by way of a withdrawal of the charge or a guilty plea.