Helping you with your most common questions...
Answers to More of Your Questions...
HOW MUCH WILL MY CASE COST?
This depends on the nature and complexity of your case. The only way to give a definitive answer is to come in and talk to me. I can review your case and provide you with a quote before you commit to anything further. I will work with you to try to come up with a payment plan that works for you. I believe in block fees so you have confidence that the price you are quoted is the price you will pay.
HOW DO I PICK A LAWYER?
Ask lots of questions. Is the lawyer knowledgeable? Do they practice in that geographic location? How much do they cost? What is their experience? What is their success rate?
WHY DO I NEED A LAWYER?
Because this is what I do. I know the complexities of cases and the system. It's probably not a good idea for me to try to fix electrical wiring and it's definitely a good idea for you to not try to fix your own legal problem.
WHAT IS DIFFERENT ABOUT DRIVING LAW?
Driving is a highly regulated activity in Canada that involves the interaction of laws at the federal, provincial and municipal levels. Knowing how each of these affects your case is integral to a proper defence. For example, dangerous driving under the Criminal Code may not lead to a loss of license from the Court but will from the Ministry of Transportation in Ontario automatically.
SHOULD I JUST TAKE WHAT THE CROWN ATTORNEY IS OFFERING?
No, you need to know what all the outcomes are. Impact on work, family and child access issues, driving privileges, weapons prohibitions, DNA orders and many other issues may not be initially reflected in a Crown position. You need to speak to a lawyer to understand things fully.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DRIVING SUSPENDED AND DRIVING PROHIBITED?
Driving suspensions are issued by the province while driving prohibitions are issued by the courts. Both stop you from driving but each may affect you for a different period of time. Having a lawyer who knows the difference can mean the difference between a jail sentence, a longer time without driving or being acquitted.
WHY CAN'T I GO HOME AFTER MY ASSAULT CHARGE IF MY WIFE WANTS ME HOME?
The courts seek to protect complainants, both from further offences but also from undue influence in telling the truth. This reinforces why you need an effective lawyer to speak to the crown and, in certain cases, speak directly to the complainant.
HOW LONG WILL I LOSE MY DRIVER'S LICENSE FOR?
Hopefully not at all! However, it depends on your charge, your record and what province or state you reside in. For example, flight from police in the Criminal Code carries a lesser loss of license than the related Highway Traffic Act charge. You need advice specific to you and your case that only a lawyer can provide.
HOW ARE YOUTH OFFENCES TREATED DIFFERENTLY?
Under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, and formerly under the Young Offenders Act, young people are treated differently because of the difference in moral culpability and life experience that they have. This can include lesser sentences, easier access to state-funding for your lawyer and greater procedural safeguards. Ask me about these differences if you have been charged!
SHOULD I SPEAK TO POLICE?
No, generally you should not. If you are stopped by police and asked anything, you generally do not have to answer. Lying to the police will often hurt you more than admitting something bad you did depending on the circumstances so the best thing is to say nothing. Remember though, you must provide documents to police and a statement if you have been in an accident and must provide documents at a police stop if driving. Generally though, most times deciding whether or not to speak to police is best determined in consultation with a trusted lawyer.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SUMMARY CONVICTION AND INDICTMENT?
Similar to American terms "misdemeanor" and "felony", summary conviction matters are generally less serious and have lesser sentences, but also fewer procedural safeguards in their prosecution. Indictments are more serious with generally larger penalties but with greater safeguards including, usually, access to a jury trial.
WHAT IS A SURETY?
A surety is a person who pledges an amount of money to ensure you follow court imposed conditions. Typically a close friend or family member, they essentially act as your jailer in the community. they may not be paid for their services and will often only have to pay money into court if you breach your conditions.
HOW LONG WILL MY CASE TAKE?
This depends on the complexities of the case and, in many cases, how long you want it to take. The first 60 days of a case are often the most important in creating a proper strategy. From that point, sometimes there are reasons to delay relating to your case, your work or your record. In other cases the goal is to finish things immediately. The real question is -what will get you the best outcome?
NOVICE DRIVER RESTRICTIONS
Anyone aged 21 or younger who is found driving with alcohol in their system faces consequences that older drivers do not. This is because of the increased crash risk of people in this age group, especially when drinking. Even if the driver's Blood Alcohol Concentration is under the criminal limit, if it is above zero then they face an immediate driver's license suspension and, if convicted, a fine and a further loss of license. The difference between this breach of your licensing condition and a more generic one can also affect your insurance in vastly different ways. Pleading to a generic breach vs. an alcohol breach is very important.
DISCHARGE VS. CONVICTION
People who have been found guilty of certain offences may not be convicted of a crime. They may be discharged, either absolutely or conditionally. If conditionally, they may face a period of probation. There can still be a court fee called a victim fine surcharge. If a person follows the requirements of their discharge then the record is eventually sealed. This works well for some people but can still cause troubles when crossing the border or getting certain kinds of work. A conviction is worse and requires a pardon or record suspension to expunge and even then may not go away. If you are wondering how a discharge would affect you, then contact your lawyer directly.
IS BEING CHARGED WITH A PROVINCIAL OFFENCE MATTER BETTER THAN A CRIMINAL CHARGE?
Often, POA matters are better than criminal charges as they do not carry the same social stigma and criminal record. However, in some cases, the penalties for POA matters are vastly worse than similar criminal charges. For example, Environmental Protection Act charges carry fines vastly higher than most criminal matters. Another example is Flight from Police: in Criminal Court you may only face a fine and a one year loss of license if handles correctly, in POA the minimum is jail, fines and much longer loss of license. Only a lawyer can properly advise you on what is best for you.
SMOKING AND DRIVING
As of January 21, 2009, it became illegal to smoke in a motor vehicle with passengers under the age of 16. While it currently (July, 2017) only applies to tobacco products, it may expand to marijuana in the near future. Police must only honestly and reasonably believe that a passenger is under 16.
DRINKING AND PROBATION TERMS
Probation is meant to help rehabilitate a person. Often alcohol or drugs are a part of the reason that a person has become involved in the criminal justice system. In certain cases the court will prohibit a person from drinking during probation. Other times they will require a person to complete counselling. Often, this decision is made quickly based on what a client tells their lawyer. If you have a drinking addiction you need to tell your lawyer as a complete ban on drinking is likely to invite a breach of your terms. However, this suggests that you may need counselling. If you do not have an addiction but do not want to complete counselling, then you may need to be ready to go without a drink for the time you are on probation.