In Canada, when you are arrested and charged with a crime, do not forget that you have legal rights. The police must always tell you what the charges are for which you’re being arrested. You have the right to remain silent, to be presumed innocent until you are proven guilty, to talk to your lawyer, and to have a fair trial.
The police or the court will provide you with a document upon your arrest. The document contains the kind of crime that you are being charged with, the kind of offense, and the date, time and place of the first court appearance.
The first thing you need to do when charged is to talk to criminal defence lawyer who will explain the charges against you, your options and court processes. Your lawyer will also tell you how strong the prosecutor’s case is, what kind of sentence to expect when you are convicted and the defences you might have. Your lawyer will make sure that your rights are not violated. He can negotiate with the prosecutor and defend you in court.
What happens if you cannot afford to hire a lawyer? If you have low income, you may qualify for a free lawyer from Legal Aid. A duty counsel is available at the courthouse to provide free advice and explain the charges against you. He can speak on your behalf during your first court appearance but he cannot be your permanent lawyer.
If you have been denied a free lawyer because the charges are serious and complex and you cannot afford to hire a private lawyer, you can ask the judge to appoint a lawyer for you. According to the Canadian Constitution, judges have the duty to protect your right to a fair trial. There will be no fair trial if you do not have a lawyer to defend you and protect your rights.
Being charged with a criminal offense can be highly stressful and frustrating but make sure to call Donich Law before making any emotional decisions. When you are distraught, you have the tendency to make potentially damaging statements. Make sure that a lawyer is by your side before making any decisions.