Toronto’s Defence Lawyer for Criminal Code Offences

Toronto’s Defence Lawyer for Criminal Code Offences

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 Our Toronto criminal lawyers can help you navigate each and every section within its covers.

Felonies Vs. Misdemeanors And Indictable Offences Vs. Summary Conviction Crimes

The lawyers of Bytensky  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.

These are lesser crimes roughly equivalent to American misdemeanors. 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  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.

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  Shikhman welcomes the opportunity to be your Toronto Criminal Lawyer. Don’t waste time, call now to consult with us.


The term ‘disclosure’ is commonly used to describe all the information the Crown and police have about your case. The Crown is obligated to disclose all this information to you as part of your constitutional right to make full answer and defence to the charges you stand accused of. Disclosure contains items such as:

  • A synopsis of the allegations
  • Witness statements
  • Surveillance and CCTV footage
  • Police officer notebooks
  • Medical records
  • Financial records

A CPT is a crown pre-trial. A CPT is a meeting between your lawyer and a Crown attorney assigned to your case. In some jurisdictions, these are called Early Resolution Meetings. At a CPT the lawyers will discuss if there is any possibility of resolving your file or will begin to discuss trial issues, if your matter is likely to go to trial.

A JPT is a judicial pre-trial. A JPT is a meeting between your lawyer, the Crown attorney, and a judge. Judicial pre-trials are used to iron out the details of a trial if that is where your matter is headed. If there is a possibility of resolution but the lawyers cannot agree on a sentence, they may also seek the judge’s input on a potential sentence.

Crown counsel have an obligation to screen charges at every stage of the criminal process to determine:

  • If there is a reasonable prospect of conviction; and
  • Whether there is a public interest in proceeding

There will be no prospect of conviction where there are frailties in the Crown’s evidence such that the Crown could not win at trial. If there is no reasonable prospect of conviction, the Crown must withdraw the charges. 

Where there is a reasonable prospect of conviction, the Crown must still consider whether there is a public interest in pursuing the charges. To determine if there is a public interest in pursuing the charges, the Crown consider factors such as the seriousness of the charges, the vulnerability of the complainant, the length and expense of a trial in comparison to the seriousness of the charges, the accused’s criminal record if any, and whether the consequences of a conviction would be unduly harsh to the accused. Where there is no public interest in proceeding, your charges must be withdrawn.

A criminal record has many serious consequences. It can affect your ability to work, volunteer, and travel to other countries, especially the United States. If you are involved in family law proceedings, a criminal record may affect the Judge’s decision concerning custody and access to your children, particularly where you have been convicted of a domestic assault against your prior domestic partner. Additionally, if you are not a Canadian citizen, a criminal record can affect your immigration status and may even result in your deportation. It is important to speak to an experienced criminal defence lawyer to understand all the potential consequences before entering any guilty plea.

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    What Clients Say About Us?

    Chris Gove
    Chris Gove
    Very knowledgeable and easy to reach.
    john struthers
    john struthers
    One of the finest counsel in the Country.
    Dod Ndreu
    Dod Ndreu
    Edward is an excellent lawyer. He is very professional and hard working criminal lawyer. I hired him for my sons criminal matter as he was looking at numerous charges and some serious jail time. He worked very hard on my sons case and dropped all charges. My son was able to get away with no jail time, thanks to Edwards hard work.. Edward was a godsend to me and my family in the hardest time of my life, and I will never forget. Every thing he told me during the court sessions happened exactly as he had planned them. I would very highly recommend Edward, his work speaks for itself. If you want positive results this is the guy to hire. Thank you Edward for what you have done for me and my family. All the best, Dod
    Christopher Seiler
    Christopher Seiler
    Sonya Shikhman was a total life saver. She took my case in her hands and never left me doubting that I had the best representation I ever could. Thank you for your professionalism, your commitment and accuracy.
    Adriano Carpenter
    Adriano Carpenter
    Sonya is very professional, knowledgable and pleasant lawyer. She was always there when we needed her. She was patient, explained every step of the very unpleasant process and prepared us for every day of the trial. I have been recommending Sonya and her law firm ever since. Thank you, Sonya! Keep up Great Work!
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