Criminal FAQ

1. How long does it take to resolve a criminal matter?

The Criminal Justice Process is often frustrating to people due to the length of time it takes to move from the initial charge being laid to the eventual resolution of the matter, whether that is by trial, guilty plea, or withdrawal of the charges. The actual length of time it takes for a matter to be completed depends on a number of factors; the complexity of the matter, the availability of witnesses, timely disclosure by crown counsel, the caseload in the jurisdiction, and many other factors. After reviewing the disclosure and assessing your case it is much easier to assess the length of time it will take to complete your matter. As a rough estimate is not unusual for a matter to take close to a year to come to trial. There are a number of important issues concerning delay that you should discuss with counsel in order to preserve your rights.

2. I am on bail conditions not to have contact with my spouse even though they keep calling me what can I do?

It is important to remember that your release conditions only bind you and not others. If your conditions state that you are not to have contact with your spouse it is important that you avoid such contact even if it is initiated by your spouse. It may be possible to have your conditions changed either by consent or through a bail review.

3. Is my license automatically suspended if I am found guilty of Impaired Driving?

Yes. As of July 2, 2008 the minimum penalty under the criminal code for conviction on the charge of Impaired Driving is a $1,000.00 fine and a one year driving prohibition. This is the minimum for an individual's first conviction, subsequent convictions come with minimum jail sentences. The minimum penalty for Refusing to Provide a Breath Sample is the same as for Impaired Driving. These of course are the minimums on a conviction, Impaired Driving and related charges involve extremely technical defenses and depending on the circumstances and disclosure there may be alternative resolutions available for these charges.

4. I travel for a living and I am concerned that my charges may prevent me from traveling?

This is a common concern. Travel to the United States is by far the most pressing concern for my client's. The United States has very strict policies regarding admission to the country. While a significant amount of information can be found on the United States customs website it is very difficult to predict what offences will bar a given individual from entering the United States. The United States also looks differently at the types of sentencing that we have here in Canada, for instance a Conditional Discharge in Canada is not considered a criminal record but depending on the type of charge it relates to could bar the individual from travel to the United States.

5. I have been contacted by the police and they have asked me to attend at the police station to provide a statement regarding a situation I was involved in, what should I do?

The most common advice given by defence counsel is to not provide a statement to the police. The police have a very important role to play in the criminal justice system, however that role is one that may lead to charges against you. Often charges are not actually found to be justified until after the police have interviewed the person that they suspect, prior to laying the charge the role of the police is to investigate allegations of criminal activity and to find the evidence to justify a charge. NEVER engage in an interview with the police without first consulting with counsel. Police officers are highly trained to obtain the information that they are looking for. Always remember that you have a right to silence which cannot be held against you in court. Suggestions by the police that it will be better for you if you tell your side of the story may or may not be true. In my years of experience I have found that the providing of a statement will almost never result in a charge not being laid.

6. What do I need for a bail hearing?

The answer to this question really depends on the nature of the charges you are facing and your history, if any, with the courts. In this day and age the courts are leaning more and more towards surety bail plans, these involve someone committing to the court that they will help to supervise you and also give a financial commitment that if they fail to properly supervise they would become subject to the payment of money to the court. Another option is a release on your own recognizance, this type of release is basically a promise to attend court and abide by the conditions of your bail. If you are heading towards a bail hearing it is always important to have a plan of supervision and some conditions that will give the court confidence that you will not get into further trouble while on bail. If released under surety bail if is likely that you will have to reside with the surety in order satisfy the supervision requirements of bail. A suitable surety is typically someone that has know you for some time, has no criminal record or at least it is minor and dated, has some financial security, and can realistically provide supervision. Cash bail is also a possibility, this involves depositing money with the court in order to ensure that you will attend your court dates and abide by the terms of release.




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  DISCLAIMER: The information on this site is not intended as legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should seek legal advice from a lawyer.

  Copyright 2008 Brendan Neil

Brendan Neil Criminal Defence Lawyer