There are two types of criminal offenses in Canada, each with its own procedural stages: summary convictions and indictable offences. Most crimes are double or mixed procedures. That means prosecutors have the option of pursuing a summary conviction or an indictment.
summary conviction offense
These offenses are usually punishable by up to six months in prison, with some exceptions. There are two procedural phases: pretrial and trial, and an experienced criminal defense attorney can employ different strategies for each phase.
The pre-trial phase consists of three procedural steps:
1) Obtain a full disclosure of all evidence from the prosecutor;
2) the official pre-trial meeting; and
3) Prejudicial trial.
When facing charges in Toronto court, in most cases the initial disclosures provided at the first or second court appearance are incomplete. A criminal defense attorney will scrutinize all disclosures and make a second or third request for additional material that appears to be missing from the disclosure package. These additional materials are almost always helpful to the client’s case. Once a full disclosure is obtained, the criminal defense attorney will review the material with the client before proceeding to the next step.
In Toronto, the criminal defense lawyer will schedule a pre-trial meeting with the prosecutor. An effective strategy for criminal defense attorneys is to thoroughly investigate all issues and identify any weaknesses in the official case. In some cases, officials will consider reducing or dropping charges.
A pre-judicial hearing is a meeting in front of a judge with both a prosecutor and a criminal defense lawyer present, and in Toronto, it can be arranged in most cases. An effective tactic for experienced criminal defense attorneys is to use the opportunity to re-argument any weaknesses in the crown’s case and encourage the judge to confront the crown to review whether charges should be reduced or dismissed. Likewise, the Crown may indicate its sentencing stance on early guilty pleas, which will also be discussed with the judge. Once the issues are narrowed down, if there is a trial, there are discussions about how many witnesses are expected to be called and how long the trial is likely to last.
After the pre-trial phase is complete, the criminal defense attorney will discuss trial strategy with the client and receive instructions to set a trial date. In Toronto, the trial will take place in one of five Courts of Ontario courts.
These are more serious offenses and carry a maximum sentence of two years to life in prison. Most indictable offenses give criminal defense attorneys the option of a pre-trial trial before a judge in an Ontario court, which follows the pre-trial stage and precedes the trial stage. In Toronto, there are five Ontario courts that hear criminal cases: Old City Hall, University Park, Scarborough Court and two courts in North York. Similar to a trial, officials call witnesses and criminal defense attorneys have the opportunity to cross-examine each witness. There was no plea or not guilty, no conviction or not guilty. Instead, the judge must decide whether there is enough evidence to proceed to a trial at the Superior Court on University Avenue in downtown Toronto, which only deals with indictable offenses.
This is a great opportunity for an experienced criminal defense attorney to examine official evidence and expose weaknesses in the official case. If the judge decides there is not enough evidence to proceed to trial, then the charges are dismissed and the client is free to leave. If there is a trial, criminal defense attorneys can use evidence against them during the trial when witnesses are questioned and cross-examined in the pre-trial.
To effectively represent clients facing criminal charges in Toronto, an experienced criminal defense attorney will use all of these opportunities to successfully handle charges at all stages of the case.
Copyright © 2011 Steven Tress, Barrister and Solicitor. Global All rights reserved.
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