Not every case goes to trial. Many clients express remorse for their criminal behavior early in the process and are intent on pleading guilty. Many want to simply move on with their life and put the ugly criminal chapter behind them. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this approach. In such cases, we focus on damage control and ask: are we able to neutralize the facts that will be read in? How low of a sentence can be obtained with regard to the circumstances of the offence and the specific offender? There are many advantages to pleading guilty; they are all dependent upon the particular facts of your case. Often jail sentences can be reduced or avoided by virtue of an expedient plea. Below is a sampling of some results that were achieved on guilty pleas or sentence hearings.
ARSON HOUSE ARREST
The Crown requested a four year penitentiary sentence for an accused convicted on a planned and deliberate arson charged that endangered the lives of many people, and caused over $1.3 million in damage. Mr. Lewandowski produced a flawless casebook and supporting materials and was able to secure a conditional jail sentence - a period of house arrest. The client successfully completed the sentence and didn't spend a single day in jail.
FRAUD ON EMPLOYER
Generally, conditional jail sentences are not available for cases in which an employee steals from their employer. These cases are called "breaches of trust" - and this is an aggravating factor that militates towards the imposition of a jail sentence. In this case, Paul Lewandowski was able to successfully advocate for a conditional jail sentence, on a $120,000.00 fraud due to a shopping addiction.
Upon conviction for an impaired driving, over 80, refusal to provide sample or DUI offence, the accused's licence gets automatically suspended by the Province of Ontario, in addition to a mandatory "prohibition" from driving for a minimum term of a year. In this case, the accused approached Paul Lewandowski for his appeal. Mr. Lewandowski successfully petitioned the appeal court to re-instate the client's licence pending the outcome of the appeal, allowing the client to maintain his employment as the Appeal process proceeded.
In cases where police misconduct is present, but may not be sufficient to support of stay of proceedings remedy, there are other legal avenues that may be pursued. In this particular case, the concept of "extra-judicial punishment" was used to soften the sentence. In essence, the fact that the client suffered an excessive beating at the hands of the police mitigates the sentence, since punishment has already been imposed.
TWO VICTIM SEX ASSAULT
The Supreme Court of Canada, as well as the Ontario Court of Appeal, has stated overtly that anyone convicted of a multiple victim sexual assault can expect to receive double digit penitentiary sentences. In this case, despite two victims under the age of ten, Mr. Lewandowski was able to secure a non-penitentiary sentence.
With few exceptions, the Criminal Code requires that the Court impose a custodial sentence on an impaired driving, over 80 or DUI charge for a second time offender. However, there are technical ways of avoiding this otherwise mandatory prison sentence. With careful analysis of your case and a good advocate, jail can be avoided - even when a statutory mandatory minimum says otherwise.
Many offences under the Criminal Code of Canada have "lesser and included offences." A classic example of this is the offence of sexual assault, which has as a "lesser and included offence", a charge of assault simpliciter. The difference between a conviction on a sexual assault, and a simple assault can be immense, particularly on sentence. In this case, Mr. Lewandowski was able to have a charge reduced at the preliminary inquiry stage, sparing the client from having to register as a sex offender.
A man accused of attempted murder by way of firearm was initially facing a mandatory minimum sentence of four years in the penitentiary. After a successfully conducted preliminary inquiry wherein the Crown witnesses were widely contradicted, a plea bargain was arranged and the client plead to lesser included offences, sparing him form even a single day in jail.
A dangerous offender designation is the most serious penalty in Canadian criminal law. Such a finding means that the offender may never be released from prison. In this case, the Crown pursued this application. Instead of life in prison, Mr. Lewandowski had the client released in one year.
NO JAIL FOR TRAFFICKING
The typical range of punishment for a drug trafficking offence involving crack cocaine is jail, beginning with a first offenders of six months. In this particular case, the Crown made submissions for a sentence of one year in jail. Mr. Lewandowski was able to distinguish the case, and spare the client this fate. Instead, a sentence of six months house arrest was imposed, despite numerous aggravating features that the Court recognized.
SEXUAL ASSAULT DISMISSED
It is unfortunately, no unusual for a complainant with a mental illness to imagine assaults that never occurred. The problem with such witnesses, is that they honestly believe their memories to be true, but in reality, they are not. In this case, the complainant has imagined - in a drug induced stupor - that she had been raped. During cross-examination by Paul Lewandowski, she admitted that she couldn't tell fiction from fantasy. The sexual assault charge was reduced to a simple assault. The client was given a conditional discharge, and was spared a criminal record.
A habitual offender convicted of trafficking opiates would typically expect to receive a penitentiary sentence. In this case, the offender had a massive criminal record. Despite this, and over the Crown's vehement objections, Mr. Lewandowski secured a provincial sentence - 18 months - to be served at a treatment facility.