Being charged with a criminal offences can be a life changing event. Manoeuvring through the criminal court process can be difficult for someone who has little to no experience in the field. When you hire Paul Lewandowski Criminal Law, we are able to guide you through the process and ensure that your rights are protected along the way. A criminal charge can stay within the system anywhere from a few days to a few years, depending on the nature of the offence.
In Canada, the Criminal Code is made up of three kinds of offences, known as summary offences, indictable offences, and hybrid offences. Summary offences are considered the least serious and can result in a sentence, after conviction, of custody less than 2 years. In addition, the statute of limitation for a summary offence is 6 months. Indictable offences are considered more serious and can carry a sentence from anywhere from a discharge to a life sentence. With Indictable offences there is no statute of limitations. A hybrid offence is unique in that it is considered both a summary and indictable offence and the Crown attorney has to elect which way they would like to proceed.
When a complaint is made or a report is file, the police have an obligation to investigate. Typically, the investigating officer will contact the suspect for an interview and sometimes for a polygraph test. If you have been contacted by a police officer in relation to an investigation, contact Paul Lewandowski Criminal Law right away. Knowing your rights before talking to the officer can prevent problems later on.
After the interview the officer can arrest you if he/she has reasonable grounds to believe you committed a crime. Upon arrest, the police officer has the option to release you right away or to detain you. If you are detained, a bail hearing will be conducted. Regardless of whether you are detained or released, a court date will be scheduled. At the first appearance court an initial synopsis will be provided to your lawyer. In addition, your criminal lawyer will also request all information relevant to your file (also known as disclosure.) Once disclosure has been received a meeting will be held with the Crown attorney and your lawyer (also known as a CPT) where they discuss the case and get the Crowns position on a plea. Sometimes in addition to a CPT, a Judicial pre-trial (also known as a JPT) will be held to narrow the focus. At the conclusion of the JPT the accused has to decide whether to enter a plea of guilty or to set a trial. If the accused decides to plead guilty, a plea will be entered before a Judge and they will be sentenced. Throughout the initial steps, the lawyers at Paul Lewandowski Criminal Law will keep you informed of the progress so that you can make informed decision regarding your case.
If the accused decides to set a trial and depending on the Crown election (whether it be summary or indictable) a preliminary hearing or a trial will be set. A preliminary hearing can only be set if the Crown attorney has elected to proceed by indictment. Traditionally, a preliminary hearing has been used as a type of discoveries where the defence can hear and test the evidence. While it is still used partially in this function, the main focus of a preliminary hearing is for the Judge to hear the evidence. At the conclusion of a preliminary hearing, the Judge has to decided if there is some evidence for which a properly instructed jury could convict the accused. If the answer is yes, the defendant is committed to stand trial and a trial date is set. While charges can be dismissed at this stage, it must be recognized that the burden on the Crown at the preliminary inquiry stage is very low - some evidence will be enough, even if it is riddled with holes. Generally matters will proceed to trial as a result of the burden of proof being low.
In addition to having a preliminary hearing, accused's who have indictable charges need to elect whether they want a Judge alone trial or a Judge and Jury trial. At Paul Lewandowski Criminal Law we help you make an informed decision based on our understanding of the file and our years of experience. During the trial, whether it be Judge alone or a Jury trial, we test all of the evidence to ensure that no stone is left unturned through proper preparation and extensive cross-examination of all of the witnesses. At the conclusion of the trial a verdict will be given, either guilty or not guilty. If the verdict is guilty, the matter will then proceed to sentencing.
For the sentencing sometimes a pre-sentence report (PSR) will be requested so that the Judge can have a greater understanding of the accused. In addition, both the Crown attorney and you lawyer will make submissions as to what they believe is a fair sentence. At Paul Lewandowski Criminal Law our submissions are based on extensive case law research and on your individual characterises. This can include your family status, aboriginal status, future plans, rehabilitation efforts, employment status etc.