Our firm has experienced lawyers that have successfully conducted many trials representing clients charged with criminal offenses, including:
- aggravated assault
- assault with a weapon
- possessing or carrying a restricted or prohibited weapon
- possession of a controlled substance such as cocaine or other illegal drug
- domestic assaults against a spouse or family member
- driving offenses such as dangerous driving or reckless driving causing bodily harm
- impaired driving charges
- driving while disqualified
- operating a vehicle without a valid operators license
- operating vehicle without valid insurance
- young offenders matters
- sexual assault
- sexual touching of a minor
If you have been charged with a criminal offense and would like to speak to a lawyer, please contact us to set up an appointment to meet with one of our lawyers to obtain a free initial consultation.
When charged with a criminal offense you should know your rights before admitting anything or resolving anything in court.
Persons that are charged with committing a criminal offense have certain legally protected rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT
First and foremost, you have the right to remain silent. This means you do not have to say anything to the police or any authorities in answer to the charges against you. This important right is for your protection to allow you not to be forced into making any self incriminating statements that could be used against you. Exercising your right to remain silent is not an interference to any investigation into the occurrence of an offense and exercising this cannot be held against you during any proceedings.
RIGHT TO SPEAK WITH A LAWYER
When you are charged with an offense by the police you have the right to speak with and obtain legal advice from an experienced criminal defense lawyer before saying anything to the police. You should in all instances where you are being charged with an offense require the police to allow you to exercise your right to speak to a lawyer before consenting to offer any information.
Remember that a criminal defense lawyer has a legal obligation to maintain and protect your legal interests only. They are experienced and is the best party to advise you on what your legal rights and to advise you on what you are legally required to do to cooperate with the police in their investigation and what rights you have that you may exercise and rely upon to protect you from self-incrimination.
Many people watch a lot of TV and many programs involve criminal law so a significant number of people get their knowledge and information on what their rights are from TV. One of the most common misconceptions is that you have the right to one phone call. In fact, in Canada this is not true. In Canada you are to be afforded a reasonable opportunity to speak to a lawyer and this means that you can try a number of times as long as you are making reasonable efforts to contact a lawyer to obtain advice.
DRINKING AND DRIVING
Obviously it should go without saying that the best way to avoid being charged and convicted of driving while drunk is to not drive your vehicle after you have been out drinking alcohol in any quantity. People often ask how drinks are too many and the answer to that question is that it is really impossible to answer because everyone's body absorbs and eliminates alcohol at different rates. Therefore, it is very risky to have preconceived ideas such as "How many drinks can I have before I will be too intoxicated to drive" and "I know how I feel when I've had so many drinks and I'll stop myself before I get too drunk to drive".
However, we all know that sometimes people do go out and have a few drinks and then get behind the wheel. If you are one of those unfortunate people and you are stopped by the police on the road you have certain rights that you should be aware of.
If you are stopped by the police on the road side and if the officer, based upon his or her observations of you and or upon any statements made by you or other factors that he or she has observed, has reasonable grounds to suspect that you may have alcohol in your body and that you were within the preceding three hours driving a motor vehicle, then the Officer has the right to investigate further and the Officer may ask you to provide a sample of your breath forthwith into an approved screening device to determine if there is alcohol present in your system.
An Officer is not required to give you the opportunity to speak to a lawyer before requiring you to submit a sample of your breath into the approved screening device. However, the test must be conducted forthwith and as soon as practicable.
The results of the approved screening device may, along with any other observed indicators of impairment, be relied upon by the Officer to form an opinion upon reasonable grounds that you have committed within the preceding three (3) hours, an offense under Section 253 of the Criminal Code of either driving while impaired or driving a vehicle with a blood alcohol content over the legal limit of .08. At this point the Officer may formally charge you with either or both of the criminal code offenses under Section 253 of the CC.
Upon being charged by a Police Officer, the rights prescribed under the Charter of Rights Freedoms including the Right to Remain Silent and the Right to Speak with legal counsel are then triggered and you have the right to invoke your rights before submitting to any further investigative process.
It is in your best interest to say yes to the questions of whether you wish to remain silent and yes to use the opportunity to speak with a lawyer. Even if you do not personally know a criminal defense lawyer that practices in criminal law in your area you can and will be provided access to a lawyer referral number by the police along with a phone book or number 1 -800 number to access a free consultation with a criminal defense lawyer to obtain legal advise.
Remember the adage, "Use it or lose It". If you chose not to speak to a lawyer during the investigation you are giving up the right to obtain legal advise regarding your situation.
If you are charged with a drinking and driving offense your driving privileges are immediately suspended under the Alberta Provincial Traffic Safety Act and you may not drive a motor vehicle in Alberta until your criminal charges are resolved in Court.
Further, the vehicle that you were operating will be seized by the Police and held in storage by the Police for up to 30 days and will not be released except to the registered owner of the vehicle upon presentation of proof of ownership and payment of storage fees.
If you are charged with an offense under the Criminal Code you will be required to attend court in the local jurisdiction where the offense occurred. The date and time of the court appearance will be noted on the Summons that is served upon you by the Police at the time of your release. You will also be required to attend at the local Police detachment where the offense occurred to provide a copy of your fingerprints. The date and location and time for when you must appear to provide your fingerprints will also be located on the Summons that the Police serves you.
It is always in your best interest to seek out and obtain legal advise when you have been charged with a criminal offense so that you can obtain competent legal advise with respect to the charges you face before appearing in court.
The laws regarding drinking and driving in Canada are constantly changing and the consequences of a conviction for drinking and driving can be very harsh. Only an experienced criminal defense lawyer can properly assess the Crown's case to determine whether you may have a viable defense to the charges and to also discuss with you, in the event there is not a legal defense to the charges, the best manner in which to resolve the matters in your best interest.
The old adage always applies, "a man who represents himself has a fool for a client". This applies equally to a person who decides they can handle a criminal matter without seeking independent legal advice first.
If you are charged by the Police with a criminal offence whether under the Criminal Code of Canada or the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act of the Young Offenders Act you have the right to be released upon your own recognizance to appear in Court when required to answer to the charge unless the Crown can show cause why you should not be released on your own recognizance and why your detention pending trial is warranted.
To show cause why you should be detained before trial the Crown has to show that you should be detained in custody because of the seriousness of the offence as charged against you it is necessary to protect the public and/or the victim and or because of the clear risk that you would not likely attend court as required to answer to the charge based upon prior evidence that you have failed to appear on previous matters and that you are likely to do the same under the new matters.
The onus is upon the Crown to show cause to hold someone in custody pending trial upon arrest unless that individual is charged with committing an offence while on recognizance pending trial on a previous matter where they were charged with a criminal offence.
You have the right to request from the Crown a copy of the Crown Bail disclosure before speaking to your Bail and you should always speak to an experienced criminal defence lawyer prior to deciding to speak to your interim release ie., Bail when charged with a criminal offence.