The Legal Process


It is important that you have a lawyer who will take every reasonable step in representing you at every stage of the legal process. From preparing for, and representing you at, your bail hearing, to providing you competent, thoroughly researched analysis of your options in answering the charges laid against you, I will advocate for your best interests, always.


While every client that retains me will receive personal attention and the information they need to make informed decisions at every stage of their defence, the links below will take you to general information about the common steps involved in the progress of a criminal case. This is not intended as legal advice, and your case may not involve every step, but it will help give you a sense of what someone can expect moving forward.


It is important to remember that not everyone is released upon first appearing in bail court, and some do not earn release at all.

While I have an exceptional record of securing bail for my clients, the Crown prosecutor has an equal say in recommending to the Justice whether you should be released pending the outcome of your case. Bail is commonly denied due to the nature of the allegations against the person; the extent and nature of his or her prior criminal record, and; the perceived likelihood that they will flee the jurisdiction of the court.

Sometimes, you can be released pending the posting of cash at the courthouse and sometimes you will need to have a "surety"—a person who will be responsible to ensure you follow the rules of your release. In some cases, you will have to live with the surety, or, alternatively, your surety will have to live with you. And, your surety must be approved by the Court. In the event you must meet one of these pre-conditions, your release may take somewhat longer, as it first has to be arranged.

Sometimes I receive calls from people who have been detained (denied bail), and wish to retain me to appeal their detention. This is referred to as a Bail Review. This requires a hearing at a higher court, the Superior Court of Justice. As an appeal, this is a highly complex hearing.

Once you have been charged with a criminal offence, your lawyer will likely have to meet with the Crown prosecutor, and a judge. At these meetings, your case is both negotiated, and, the details of your trial are discussed and established.

Often, a "plea resolution" (colloquially referred to as a, "plea bargain") is possible. I will speak with you about any offer to resolve your case without a trial. These offers can be as good for you as a withdrawal of the charges against you, or a reduction of the severity of the charges and a reduced penalty. Discussing and planning for these negotiations are an important part of our work together and of the legal opinion I offer you.

In Canada there are two types of offences, summary conviction offences and indictable offences. These are roughly the equivalent of misdemeanor and felony charges in the United States. For most indictable offences in Canada, you have the option to be tried by a Judge and Jury at the Superior Court of Justice, or, a judge sitting alone without a jury.

Often, the first step is a Preliminary Inquiry. The Preliminary Inquiry may serve one or two functions. First, it may be the opportunity to ask a Court to decide that the prosecutor does not have a strong enough case to end up in a conviction, and so the judge will dismiss the charges against you. Second, even where there is enough evidence against you to warrant a trial, the inquiry can be used as a way for you and your lawyer to "test the evidence." This is a good way to learn more about what witnesses will say, and see the strength of any physical evidence against you, such as videos, DNA, etc.

If you have decided you want to exercise your right to a trial, this is the hearing where guilt or innocence will be decided by the judge or the jury. In the time leading up to the start of your trial, we will have prepared the best defence that can be advanced in your favour. Your rights, your presumption of innocence, and the prosecutor's position that the Crown Attorney can prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt will all have been meticulously analysed and your arguments prepared. This is the time to hold the Crown Attorney to her or his obligation: to prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

In the event that you are found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the offences (or some of the offences, or, lesser but included offences), the final stage is to determine what the appropriate punishment will be. It may require a significant amount of preparation, including testimonials from people important in your life, who can offer insights to the judge about you, your character, your background, and the circumstances of how and why you came to be convicted of an offence.

The Crown Attorney and you have an equal say in suggesting to the judge what that penalty is, and, since it is the decision of the judge, this stage of the whole trial process is as important as any other.

After being convicted and sentenced, you may wish to launch an appeal. There are very strict deadlines in starting the appeal process. Do not hesitate or delay.

An appeal is important if:

  • You want to continue to assert your innocence; or
  • You accept that the conviction is proper, but you believe the punishment was too harsh and did not "fit the crime", or;
  • The Crown prosecutor is filing an appeal because, for example, you were found not guilty, or, she or he is submitting that, although you were found guilty, the punishment was not harsh enough.

If you are unsure of what to do and you want a new lawyer to review your case and give you an opinion as to the merit of any appeal, please contact me right away.