People often think the criminal justice system is like what they see in Movies and on TV. Most shows and films focus on the American legal system, resulting in some people having inaccurate views about the Canadian justice system. There might be a few similarities, but a number of differences set the Canadian legal system apart.
Top 7 common myths and misconceptions about criminal law in Toronto and the rest of Canada:
We will share some of the most common misconceptions about the Canadian legal system.
- You do not need a lawyer if you know you are not guilty.
Nobody knows the situation better than the accused himself. When you know you are wrongfully accused of a crime in Toronto or anywhere in Canada you might think your innocence will be accepted by all players in the justice system. However, things may go the other way, given the statistical reality of wrongful convictions.
Hiring a well-regarded Toronto criminal lawyer is the best way to ensure that you maximize your chances of the truth coming out in court. Even if you know that you are guilty and think that you have no defence, a lawyer can advocate for a lower sentence, or discover holes in the Crown’s case that may result in them being unable to meet the criminal standard of proof.
- Miranda rights also apply in Canada.
In many Movies and TV shows, the police tell accused persons when arresting them, their right to remain silent as anything said can be used against them. They also tell them about their rights to retain an attorney. “Miranda rights” are an American concept and do not apply in Canada. However, we have similar rights in Canada, as codified in the Charter of Rights & Freedom.
Pursuant to our Charter, the police must advise you of the reasons for your arrest and your right to retain and instruct counsel without delay. Police further issue a standard caution that anything you say may be used in evidence. If you invoke your rights to counsel, police are required to hold off questioning you until you exercise your rights.
- An arrest warrant is necessary for the police to arrest you.
It is a common misconception that the police always need an arrest warrant to arrest someone. While the police can apply for an arrest warrant, they may also arrest someone without a warrant if they have reasonable and probable grounds to believe that they committed a criminal offence.
- You have to answer everything the police ask you.
Because it is a common adage that the police are here to serve and protect us, many individuals think that if they are arrested and innocent, they have to answer the questions posed by the police. In Toronto and the rest of Canada, much like other Common Law jurisdictions, we have the right to silence when being investigated by the police. This means that you do not need to answer questions the police pose to you when you are a suspect in a criminal case.
- The Criminal Justice System moves quickly.
The movement of cases in the criminal justice system is not as quick as some may think. In the United States, the right to a “speedy trial” is interpreted much differently than in Canada. It is not unusual for accused persons to receive a first court appearance date that is six weeks after their initial charge date. Further, a number of court appearances are typically required, which can last months, until a case is resolved or scheduled for trial.
- A clean records means that you will avoid jail.
Some people believe that if they are a first-time offender, it is guaranteed that they will avoid jail. While lacking a criminal record is a factor the court will take into consideration, if you are found guilty of a criminal offence, the judge must sentence you in accordance with the principles of sentencing. This means that depending on the nature offence and your moral culpability, jail may well be imposed if a first-time offender is sentenced.
A Toronto criminal lawyer can assist you by reviewing the disclosure and determining if triable issues exist that can lead to an acquittal at trial. Alternatively, if the matter is going to resolve with a finding of guilt, a lawyer can advocate for a lenient sentence in both Crown pretrial conferences and judicial pretrial conferences, in an attempt to secure a non-custodial sentence.
- You cannot challenge the testimony of an eyewitness.
It is a common myth as the testimony of eyewitnesses is always accepted in the Canadian criminal justice system. However, it can be challenged in multiple ways, including:
- Introducing new evidence that can contradict their claims;
- Questioning the credibility of the eyewitness;
- Arguing that the eyewitness may not have accurately observed the situation due to reliability concerns.
Toronto Criminal Lawyer
Karapancev law is made up of experienced criminal defence lawyers in Toronto. With offices both downtown Toronto and in Mississauga, the firm is able to represent clients all throughout the Greater Toronto Area. Alex Karapancev and his staff are aware of the significant challenges that come with being accused of a serious crime. In these situations, both your professional and private lives can be affected. Throughout the Ontario, the firm represents clients in Court with tenacity and professionalism. Please call our office right away if you need a top criminal lawyer in Toronto.