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Criminal & Divorce Lawyers

Criminal Law FAQ

I have been charged with a criminal offence and the police want me to give a statement.  What should I do?

It is a very common police practice to try to elicit a statement from someone who has been charged with a crime.  Often, police will tell the accused that this will be his chance to give his version of events.  Police will even go so far as to lie to persons they have arrested about the evidence they have gathered and about the strength of their case in the hope that the accused will either flat out confess or try to explain away the evidence and make admissions that will help the police prosecute the accused.

It is very important to understand that if you are charged with a criminal offence, you do not have to make a statement to the police and it is almost never in your interest to do so.  You have the right on arrest to contact a Criminal lawyer without delay to clarify your situation and what you should do.

I have been charged with a criminal offence and the police want to keep me in jail.  What can I do?

You need to contact a Criminal lawyer immediately and arrange to have a bail hearing.  In the Province of Alberta, it is a common practice for an accused person to be brought before a Justice of the Peace at a police station at the time of their arrest.  An arrestee facing detention under these circumstances has a right to have a lawyer assist them, even though they are not in a courthouse.  Alternatively, you can decline to speak to your release at this time and set a date for a bail hearing before a Provincial Court judge a few days later.

Often this situation is very difficult for those of us who have families, jobs and other responsibilities.  Any amount of time in custody can cause serious problems in a person’s personal life.  At the most general level, in order to secure release, you have to show that you have a plan of supervision in place, often times with a family member or friend promising to supervise you and to ensure that you comply with the conditions of your release/bail.  Many times, people who have been charged will have to deposit a sum of money to secure their release.

I was charged and I have been released.  Now what should I do?

You need to contact a Criminal lawyer in Edmonton to discuss how to prepare your defense.  You are entitled to receive disclosure of all evidence that is in the possession of the police and/or prosecutor.  A lawyer can review your disclosure and advise you of possible defenses that you may have as well as the strength of the case against you.  Further, even though there is evidence against you, it may be possible to exclude it if your rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms were violated.

In addition to reviewing disclosure with your lawyer.  You should advise your lawyer of any people who may have witnessed the incident or who have other information that could be helpful in defending you against your criminal charges.  You should write detailed notes of your own version of events and keep them because your memory may fade over time.  Also, you should provide your lawyer with the names and contact information of possible witnesses so that they can be interviewed and so that notes can be taken of the information they provide, all of which will assist you in preparing for your trial.

It is worth noting that at times, defense lawyers will provide statements of defense witnesses to the crown in advance of trial in the hope that the prosecutor will re-evaluate whether or not they want to proceed to trial, or if they want to make a more favorable offer to resolve the matter such as having the accused enter into a peace bond instead of seeking a conviction at trial.  Lastly, if the prosecutor believes, in light of information provided by the defence lawyer that the accused is unlikely to be convicted, they may simply withdraw the charges.

I’m innocent!  Why should I have to pay a lawyer?

If you are innocent, you should have even more incentive to defend yourself against criminal charges in order to keep your record clean.  Having a criminal conviction on your record can have many implications.  Not only do many employers do criminal record checks on prospective employees, but if your conviction is discovered by your current employer, you could lose your job.  Further, you may have difficulty travelling, getting a loan or even obtaining housing, depending on what you have been convicted of.

I believe that I am guilty so why should I go to trial?

Even if you feel that you are responsible for the crime you are charged with, you may still have one or more defenses that are available to you in law.  Further, even without a recognized defense such as self-defense etc., the prosecution may have difficulty proving its case against you depending on the quality of the evidence that they are able to call at trial.  Further, sometimes witnesses will not appear at trial which can make it difficult, if not impossible for you to be convicted.  Often, the best results are obtained on the day of trial.

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