If you’ve been charged with a criminal offense, you may find the justice system tricky to navigate. An experienced criminal lawyer will be able to guide you through this tough life event.
A lawyer will know what your rights are. In Canadian criminal law, there are acts—rules that pertain to the rights of offenders, and the way they are prosecuted in the Canadian justice system—that can help you understand the legal process. These acts include the Canadian Human Rights Act, Youth Criminal Justice Act, the Canada Evidence Act and many more.
- A lawyer will help elucidate the legal process and the workings of the Canadian justice system.
- Your lawyer will ask the cross-examiner for a copy of the evidence that is to be used against you.
- After a sentencing, a hearing or a trial, keep all documented records. Three to five years after conviction, offenders may apply for a pardon—documentation that confirms that you are of good conduct, enabling you to travel, find jobs and more—through the National Parole Board. A lawyer will be able to guide you through getting a pardon.
When do you call a lawyer and how they can help you?
- You should always have a lawyer to protect your rights. The first step to take upon being charged with an offense is to hire a lawyer. You don’t know the judge and the cross-examiner will be skilled at what he or she does—so you absolutely need a defender who has specialized in criminal law.
- Although you can contact Legal Aid for help, they will not always give all the information you need. A lawyer will help you understand the paperwork and legal jargon.
- If you cannot afford a lawyer, contact your provincial Bar Association for a pro bono lawyer. (A pro bono lawyer will not charge you for his or her services.)
- You must provide the lawyer with your own detailed account of the events that incurred the criminal charge, as well as any reasons that motivated you to act as you did.
- Your lawyer may want to use a defense such as a duress, automatism, intoxication or necessity, in which case you may need to provide medical records or other sources he or she could use as evidence.
- Be as open as possible with your lawyer, providing names of people who can support your account.