Being accused of a crime can be scary and traumatizing. The first and most important thing is to get legal representation. An expert criminal defense lawyer can help you through the different stages. Understanding the Canadian criminal trial procedure is also essential. This blog lists the basics of Canadian criminal trial procedures.
1st stage – Arrest
In Canada, the criminal trial procedure usually begins with an arrest. At this stage, the police must have strong evidence causing them to believe you committed the crime. They will tell you the charges and hold you in a cell. Depending on the severity of the crime, you can be released on bail. Bail contains an agreement on which you promise to appear in court on the given date. It will also bear the details of the crime, including the type, severity, date, and time. If the police consider the crime very serious, the police will hold you in their custody until the trial.
2nd stage – Disclosure
The prosecutor shows you details of the evidence of the crime. These will include copies of witness statements, police reports, criminal history, etc. You should then read all the documents and determine if you agree with the charges. It is essential to have an expert criminal defense lawyer on your side. They will properly explain the charges and offer to advise. Do not plead guilty or not guilty. Do not speak to the police until you have your lawyer present.
3rd stage – Pre-trial
Before this stage, the lawyer would have explained the disclosure and the defense strategy. The lawyer would prepare you for the pre-trial questioning based on the charges. If there was no disclosure, the lawyer might argue for a stay. Which means adjourning the trial for a later date. Once the prosecutor/Crown provides the complete disclosure materials, a trial date is then set. But before then, there will be a pre-trial conference. The lawyer, judge, and prosecutor attend this meeting to review all the evidence and elements in the defense.
4th stage – The Trial
The trial is held at the set date once all necessary pre-trial issues are addressed. The duration will depend on how complex the case is. The number of witnesses that testified, the points raised, and whether it is a jury trial or not. These are the different factors that determine how long a trial takes.
5th stage – Verdict
If it is a jury trial, the jury will deliberate on the points raised and reach a decision. If not, the judge will give their decision after listening to both sides and reviewing the arguments. If there is a conviction, your lawyer and the Crown will argue what sentence was appropriate for the crime. The judge may require written arguments in some cases. Based on this, the judge may or may not postpone the sentencing to a later date.
These are the five basic stages of a criminal trial process in Canada. If you are facing criminal charges, contact an expert defense lawyer as soon as possible. They can assist through all the stages. But the earlier you get legal representation, the better.