Tag Archives: criminal lawyer

What You Need to Know About Bail Hearings

Bail hearings are part of due process for criminal offences. Everyone is entitled to a bail hearing, regardless of the criminal offence and charges being filed against them. However, not everyone will be granted bail. Bail is granted based upon several factors, including:

1. The flight risk of the defendant. If it is deemed the person is a flight risk, where they might attempt to flee and would not attend all court appearances, bail could be denied.

2. The risks to the general public. If the defendant’s release would create a risk to the general public, bail may not be granted.

3. The likelihood the defendant would commit further criminal offences. If there is a chance the defendant would commit criminal offences if released, bail can be denied.

4. The evidence the Crown has obtained. The defendant can be kept in custody in cases where the Crown has a strong case and the defendant’s release would hurt the public’s confidence in the legal system.

In Ottawa there are two common types of bail hearings conducted, largely based upon the criminal offence. The first one is called Appearance Notice Release (Promise to Appear). This type of hearing is normally conducted by the arresting police agency, not the court. It is used in cases where the person has no prior criminal record or only minor infractions on the record, or the offence was a minor infraction.

Securing release under an Appearance Notice Release is at the police agency’s discretion. There is no formal bail hearing conducted. Although, the police could impose specific conditions for setting bail that you must agree with prior to being released, such as:

• Travel Restrictions

• No Contact with Complainants

• Promise to Appear at All Court/Legal Proceedings

• Promise to Report to Police for Identification Purposes (Fingerprinting)

• No Alcohol Usages

• No Further Violations

• Following a Curfew

• Avoid Specific Locations/Addresses

• Upholding the Peace

In cases where you do not agree to certain imposed conditions for release, it is possible to challenge these in court with help from your Ottawa criminal defence lawyer, later once you case is reviewed in front of a judge. If you want to get out of jail, then accept the conditions initially until you have time to meet with a lawyer and discuss your reasons why you want to request they be changed.

The second type of bail hearing is called a Recognizance Release. This bail hearing is conducted in court in front of a judge. It is used in cases where the arresting police agency has reservations about granting an Appearance Notice Release, the defendant has a lengthy criminal record, the defendant was already on bail for another criminal offence, or the offence committed is considered more serious. During a Recognizance Release hearing, the Crown’s lawyers will present any evidence they feel relevant in the event they do not want the defendant released.

For this type of bail hearing, you should have a criminal defence lawyer represent your interests. Just like an Appearance Notice Release, the judge can impose specific conditions and terms for the release. In addition, there is often some form of cash deposit or surety required before release is granted.

It should be mentioned there are always unique circumstance and exceptions in every case. As such, the information provided above should not be used as actual legal advice and only for general information purposes. If you or a loved one has been arrested and is waiting for a bail hearing, it is better to retain the services of an experienced criminal lawyer in Ottawa, like Céline Dostaler. Call 613-695-8595 now for sound legal advice and to discuss your charges in more detail.

The Right to a in the Official Language of Your Choice

Section 530 of the Criminal Code of Canada provides that a criminal trial can be in either French or English: anywhere in Canada. If you are accused of a criminal code offence, the court has the obligation to advise you of your right to a trial in either French or English. This right ensures that you understand everything that happens at trial: from the witnesses’ testimony to the legal arguments made by the Crown and your lawyer and to the judge’s decision, you need to understand what is going on.

However, the Crown does not have the obligation to translate their case, also known as the “disclosure of the evidence” if it is produced in one of the official languages of Canada. This means that if the police officers’ notes and reports are written in English, but you want a trial in French, the Crown will not translate the documents so that you may understand them.

Even if you can speak both French and English, you have the right to a trial in the language you are most comfortable in. If you chose to have a trial in English, but the witnesses are French, the Court will ensure that all legal arguments are in English, and that the French witnesses have an interpreter so that you may understand what is being said.

Having a bilingual lawyer in these types of circumstances can be very useful: not only will your lawyer be able to correctly read and interpret the Crown’s case, but they can make sure that the interpreter is correctly translating the words spoken by a witness.

What is your success rate?

Before retaining the services of one lawyer versus another, it’s important to know how well they have done in other cases.

But what exactly is a successful case?

The most common type of success is when the judge enters an acquittal or when the charge is withdrawn. While these are the best possible outcomes, they can be the most difficult and time consuming. Going to trial takes months, if not years. The evidence must be in favour of the defence, or there is an clear breach of Charter rights. Often, the evidence is not automatically in favour of the defence, it takes a skilled trial lawyer to find inconsistencies, to search deep beneath the surface of the evidence and come up with issues of reliability of the witnesses or police notes. Sometimes, however, evidence such as the police notes, witness statements and video surveillance are not in favour of the defence, and an acquittal is not possible.

In those cases, the criminal lawyer adapts and tries to negotiate a guilty plea to a lesser offence. These types of negotiations are beneficial for numerous aspects: a lesser penalty and lesser charges indicated on a criminal record. It can be the difference between having a criminal record for an aggravated assault versus only an assault.

Criminal defence lawyers must, more often than not, focus on the sentencing component of the conviction. This becomes more of a damage control type of function. Depending on the charge and the circumstances of the offence, there may be sentencing alternatives that range from diversion programs, to discharges, to fines, and even probation.

Sometimes, it may become probable that the accused will go to jail for a period of time. In these types of cases, the criminal lawyer becomes successful when they have effectively convinced a judge that the accused should serve a lesser amount of time in custody.

While defence lawyers strive for an acquittal or withdrawal, in some cases such an outcome is not possible. A successful day before the courts does not always mean an acquittal – it may mean a plea of guilt to a lesser offence, or a plea of guilt where the accused receives a lesser penalty.

Celine Dostaler strives to reach successful results in all her cases. Speak to her today to discuss your case.

The Right To A Trial In the Official Language of Your Choice

Section 530 of the Criminal Code of Canada provides that a criminal trial can be in either French or English: anywhere in Canada. If you are accused of a criminal code offence, the court has the obligation to advise you of your right to a trial in either French or English. This right ensures that you understand everything that happens at trial: from the witnesses’ testimony to the legal arguments made by the Crown and your lawyer and to the judge’s decision, you need to understand what is going on.

However, the Crown does not have the obligation to translate their case, also known as the “disclosure of the evidence” if it is produced in one of the official languages of Canada. This means that if the police officers’ notes and reports are written in English, but you want a trial in French, the Crown will not translate the documents so that you may understand them.

Even if you can speak both French and English, you have the right to a trial in the language you are most comfortable in. If you chose to have a trial in English, but the witnesses are French, the Court will ensure that all legal arguments are in English, and that the French witnesses have an interpreter so that you may understand what is being said.

Having a bilingual lawyer in these types of circumstances can be very useful: not only will your lawyer be able to correctly read and interpret the Crown’s case, but they can make sure that the interpreter is correctly translating the words spoken by a witness.

The Right to a Lawyer Of Choice

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides that anyone under arrest or detention has the right to retain and instruct counsel without delay.

Police have to advise the person under arrest of their rights. In order to speak to a lawyer, the person under arrest must tell the officer that they wish to exercise that right: they must tell the officer that they want to speak to a lawyer.

Once an individual advises they wish to exercise a right, the police must provide a reasonable opportunity to exercise the right, except in urgent or dangerous circumstances. This means that once an individual asks to speak to a lawyer, the police must make reasonable attempts to allow her that conversation.

Many people don’t have a lawyer on call, and don’t know any criminal lawyers. To remedy this situation, police officers often have a list of lawyers who practice criminal law in their jurisdiction, or offer to call an on-call duty counsel to provide free advice. It’s important to note, however, that if an accused wants to contact a specific lawyer, police must make reasonable efforts to find and contact that lawyer on the accused’s behalf. The arrested person is not limited to speaking only with the lawyers on a list, or duty counsel.

Sometimes, people call the first lawyer they can get a hold of, because they cannot research lawyers at the police station. It is important to know that an accused person is not obligated to continue to retain the same lawyer they spoke with at the police station: they should find a lawyer they are comfortable with.

Courts have often reiterated the importance of the right to counsel. If the court does not believe the police respected an individual’s right to counsel, the charges can be dismissed on that basis. If you were not allowed to call your lawyer of choice, contact Celine Dostaler today to discuss your case. Celine Dostaler if an Ottawa criminal lawyer that has successfully defended individuals whose rights to counsel of choice was denied by the police.

New Victim Fine Surcharges

Whenever there is a finding of guilt, either if the accused pleads guilty or is found guilty after trial, a victim fine surcharge will be automatically added to the sentence.

The government says that the surcharge is “used to help fund programs and services for victims of crime in the province or territory where the crime occurred.” As of October 24, 2013, judges lost their discretion to impose a victim fine surcharge if the accused did not have the ability to pay. For example, if the accused lost his employment as a result of a lengthy jail sentence, judges would often waive the victim fine surcharge, recognizing the undue hardship that it would cause.

However, as of October 24, 2013, a new bill was passed that removed the judge’s discretion to impose or not the victim fine surcharged, and doubled the amount imposed.

After a finding of guilt, the victim fine surcharge will be applied in the following manner:
– 30% of any fine imposed
– $100 for offences punishable by summary conviction, where no fine was imposed
– $200 for offences punishable by indictment, where no fine was imposed.

Although there is currently no discretion to waive the victim fine surcharge, many lawyers are working together to find workarounds, and prevent high surcharge payments: either with asking for lower fines to be imposed, which would reduce the 30% surcharge, or with arguing that the Bill be struck down as unconstitutional.

Your ability to pay a fine or surcharge is important to discuss with your lawyer.