The Criminal Code contains a dizzying array of charges that a person can face and incorporates into it a host of other statutes (such as the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act) that create further criminal liability. The Criminal Code is our Bible and BPS lawyers can help you navigate each and every section within its covers.
The lawyers of Bytensky Prutschi Shikhman have extensive experience defending persons facing a wide range of criminal charges from allegations as minor as shoplifting to charges as serious as murder. Included within this broad category are property offences, frauds, drug offences, and sexual assaults, along with many other types of offences
Many clients are confused by the type of crime they are charged and want to know if they are facing a felony or a misdemeanor. These are American terms that do not apply to Canadian criminal law or Canadian Criminal Code but they do have rough analogs in our own justice system.
In Canada, every charge in the Criminal Code can be divided into three categories.
[su_accordion][su_spoiler title=”Summary Conviction Offences”]These are lesser crimes roughly equivalent to American misdemeanours. A summary conviction offence carries a maximum penalty of less than two years in jail. In Ontario, these crimes are prosecuted before a Judge in the Ontario Court of Justice (formerly known as the “Provincial Division” or “Lower Court”).
These are more serious crimes roughly equivalent to American felonies. An indictable offence can carry very significant penalties all the way up to a term of life in prison. Because indictable offences are more serious and carry far more serious potential penalties, the accused generally has three choices for their mode of trial. Cases can be kept in the Ontario Court of Justice(OCJ) with a Provincial Court Judge just like summary conviction offences OR the client can choose to have a preliminary hearing in the OCJ. The preliminary hearing only requires the Crown prosecutor to produce the bare minimum of evidence in order to have the client committed to stand further trial but preliminary inquiries (often colloquially referred to as “prelims”) give a good defence lawyer the opportunity to carefully test the Crown’s case thus setting the stage for the later trial. If the client chooses to conduct a preliminary inquiry, the trial will then take place in the Superior Court of Justice(formerly known as the “General Division” or “High Court”). These trials can take place before a judge alone or before a judge and jury. The choice of what mode to select for indictable trials involves many complex and competing interests. The lawyers at Bytensky Prutschi Shikhman have extensive experience with all modes of trial at both levels of court and we will discuss the pros and cons of each choice in great detail with our clients before settling on the particular strategy that is most appropriate for their unique set of circumstances.
A large number of offences in the Criminal Code are known as “hybrids” – meaning the Crown Attorney has the right to choose whether to proceed with the case as a less serious summary conviction offence or the more serious indictable case. This choice will be made after considering the offender’s previous criminal record (if any) and the specific facts of a given case. As the choice between summary and indictable modes can have a significant impact on a client’s sentence if they are found guilty, our lawyers begin lobbying the crown at a very early stage to convince the crown to make a summary election whenever possible. In addition to the significant differences noted above, the mode of trial also impacts how soon a convicted client can apply for a Record Suspension (formerly known as a Pardon). Perhaps most importantly, the mode of trial can have a very big impact on mandatory minimum sentences – this is particularly true in cases of impaired driving (DUI) and child pornography.[/su_spoiler][/su_accordion]
In addition to the significant differences noted above, the mode of trial also impacts how soon a convicted client can apply for a Record Suspension (formerly known as a Pardon). Perhaps most importantly, the mode of trial can have a very big impact on mandatory minimum sentences – this is particularly true in cases of impaired driving (DUI) and child pornography.
A criminal defense lawyer will make every effort to answer your questions promptly and personally – you will not be shuffled around through layers of staff. When our lawyers are in court, our office staff will respond to your concerns immediately and professionally. Bytensky Prutschi Shikhman welcomes the opportunity to be your Toronto Criminal Lawyer. Don’t waste time, call now to consult with us.