What if I Breach My Bail Conditions?

It is important to follow all of the bail conditions that are set once you have been granted bail.  Some of your conditions will be common to most individuals charged with the same criminal offence, and some might be particular to your situation.  Failure to comply with all of your bail conditions has serious consequences.

First, by breaching some or all of the conditions, you risk losing the privilege of being released on bail.  A Judge might order you to appear in Court and revoke your release, thereby placing you once again in police custody.  You may also be charged with additional criminal offences which can exacerbate the defence of your original charges.

Breaching your bail conditions can also reduce your chances of receiving bail if you are charged with another criminal offence in the future.  It can also negatively impact any negotiations your lawyer may enter into with the prosecution.  If you fail to follow all of your bail conditions, the prosecutor and Judge involved with your case will be less likely to exercise leniency.

It is in your favour, regardless of how difficult or unfair your bail conditions may seem, to follow them all and comply with the law.  On rare occasions, individuals accidentally breach their bail conditions or are in a situation where they have no choice but to temporarily break them.

Although these circumstances are rare, they are possible. If you think you are in a situation like this, discuss it promptly with your defence lawyer.  An intentional breach of bail conditions has serious consequences for you and for the success of your criminal case.  It is always best to comply with the conditions laid out by the Judge at the time of your bail hearing in order to assist your lawyer in achieving a positive outcome in your case.

What Should I do If I am Arrested by the Police?

As an Ottawa criminal defence lawyer, I am often asked what someone should do if he or she is arrested by the police in connection with a crime.

If you are ever arrested by the police for a crime like fraud, tax evasion, assault, impaired driving or even homicide, the worst thing you can do is to talk to the police about “what happened”.  Protesting your innocence to the police will not get you anywhere and may make things much more difficult for your criminal defence lawyer.

Instead of trying to talk your way out of the criminal charges, politely but firmly indicate that you would like to speak with a criminal defence lawyer.  You really should not say more than that.  Even small comments can be used by the Crown against you in a trial.

Make the most of your telephone call with a criminal defence lawyer.  Keep in mind that you do not only get one call as they say on television.  If you do not reach your counsel of choice, in many cases you can leave a message for a return call or select another lawyer of your choice to try to call.

During the call, the lawyer will probably not want you to talk about the nitty gritty of your case.  Instead, the criminal defence lawyer will want to explain to you how to cope with the arrest process and what to expect.  The strategy for defending against the charges will be developed after the arrest process is completed and you are either released on bail or moved to the detention centre.

While your arrest is processed, you may be placed in a holding cell.  In Ottawa, most areas of the cell blocks are video taped. In some circumstances there may be audio as well.  Your behaviour during that process will be recorded.  Accordingly, you should be calm, cool and collected.

An arrest for a criminal charge is scary and undesirable.  However, with thoughtful advice from an experienced criminal defence lawyer like Richard Auger, the disruption to your life can be minimized.

Ottawa Lawyers – For a teenager charged with an offence, legal representation is important

If you are in Ottawa, Eastern Ontario or elsewhere in Canada, you should beware that people often think, incorrectly, that criminal findings of guilt before adulthood have no impact once a person becomes an adult. A young person’s record does not cease to exist just because they turn 18, and if they re-offend before the “non-disclosure period” has passed, their record can be used in court.

Read moreOttawa Lawyers – For a teenager charged with an offence, legal representation is important

Ottawa Criminal Lawyer: Can I get my charges withdrawn?

If you have been charged with a criminal offence in Ottawa, or elsewhere in Canada,you should know that there are two ways that your charges may be dropped.

The Crown has the right to withdraw any criminal charge or they may also stay the proceedings.

Firstly, what this means is that before an accused enters a plea in open court, the Crown can completely withdraw any criminal charge. After this has happened though, if the crown attempts to relay the charge, the courts may intervene to ensure that there is no abuse of this process. If this ever happens to you, make sure you discuss it with your lawyer because any decision by the crown to prosecute after a charge has been withdrawn may require a legal application to be brought before the court.

Secondly, as of right at any time before a final judgement is rendered in a case, the crown may also stay the proceedings stopping the prosecution immediately. In this case, the accused can be released from custody and the court has no power to intervene to require the continuation of the prosecution. However, the Crown does have the power to recommence the prosecution after a stay of proceedings has been entered. For this reason, it is better to get a withdrawal of charges.

If you have been charged with a criminal offence, make sure you have a criminal defence lawyer with the knowledge and experience to protect you. Contact a criminal defence lawyer at Auger Hollingsworth at 613-233-4529 or at [email protected]

Will I Be Found Guilty of my Criminal Charges?

Whether or not you are found guilty at a trial will depend on whether the crown attorney can prove a guilty act and a guilty mind.

In order to prove guilt, the crown must prove two parts for every criminal offence.  The crown must prove an act (actus reus) was committed by you and that you had the criminal mental intention (mens rea) to commit the act.  There is no guilty act without a guilty mind.

To prove the guilty act, the crown has to show:

a) an action (or omission of an action)

b) by a person with capacity

c) in a voluntary manner

d) which caused certain consequences.

If there is any reasonable doubt about whether these aspects of the alleged criminal act occurred, the court must find you not guilty.  You do not need to testify and your lawyer does  not have to prove that the alleged criminal act did not occur.  You can remain totally silent because the burden of proof is on the crown.

How Can I Improve my Sentence:

Sometimes, no matter how good your criminal defence lawyer is, you end up with a finding of guilt or a plea of guilt and a sentencing hearing is required.    Sentencing in Ottawa is a very important part of your case and should not be treated as an afterthought.

Where sentencing is likely or possible, our criminal defence lawyers will work with you to help build a strong case for a lenient sentence.   A key component of the sentencing package is reference letters.

We work with our clients to devise a list of people who can provide personal letters of reference on your behalf.   Typically these letters come from members of your community, religious institution, employer, neighbors, teachers or anyone else who is prepared to tell the court that you are a person of integrity who should be sentenced lightly.    Note that we would never contact anyone for a reference letter without your express consent and instructions.

Generally,  the letters of support set out the following:

-who the writer is in terms of occupation and family status

-a description of the writer’s connection to the accused person

-the fact that the writer is aware of the charges; and

-a description of a number of the accused person’s positive personal attributes (such as hard working, honest, a reliable worker, etc.).

The letter should include the writer’s contact information.

A package of supportive letters from people of good reputation in the community can go a long way to assisting your Ottawa criminal lawyers in making strong submissions on sentence.

So-called “Truth in Sentencing” bill comes into force

Last week, the legislation that eliminates two-for-one credit on Canadian sentences came into force.  What this means is that people convicted of a criminal offence and then sentence do not receive additional credit for time they spent in jail before they were found guilty or plead guilty.

While this new law will appeal to those espousing a  tough on crime agenda, there are some real concerns it raises.

First, the two-for-one credit took into account that the conditions at the detention centres where people are typically held before trial are much worse than at a federal or provincial penitentiary.  Local detention centres are over-crowded, often in poor repair and lack programming.  Spending 6 months in this type of holding tank is much, much worse than 6 months at a proper facility.

Second, there is a philosophical argument that is important for people who believe that the presumption of innocence is an important tenet of our judicial system.  Pre-trial, pre-conviction custody entails detaining someone who has not been convicted of a crime.  In our view, there needs to be recognition of this fact.

Third, it eliminates the ability of judges to treat each case individually.  One of the virtues of Canada’s criminal justice system is its ability to tailor the outcome of a criminal prosecution to the facts of the case.   Tying a judge’s hands is contrary to this important principle.

Fourth, lengthy pre-sentence custody is necessitated by a lack of government resources.  People serve “dead time” because there are backlogs in the courts, not enough judges and court staff, etc.  The removal of the 2-1 in sentencing takes a way one incentive for the Crown and the administration of justice to keep the process moving.

Fifth, there is really no evidence that this move will have any impact on reducing crime.  This is legislation about appearing to be tough on crime.  It is not about reducing crime.

Ottawa Criminal Lawyer Looks Back on 13 Years of Service

Today is the 13th anniversary of my call to the Bar of Ontario.

During my 13 years I have been very fortunate to secure some great outcomes for great people who have had the misfortune of getting caught up in the criminal justice system. Some of the highlights of my career to date include:

  • being counsel on a number of the leading decisions on extradition in Canada;
  • acting as co-counsel for a man who had been convicted of murder on his second trial where a jury acquitted him;
  • having the charges dropped for several clients on major tax evasion cases through Charter arguments and disclosure requests;
  • having fraud charges dropped following preliminary inquiries for several business people in different cases;
  • resolving countless domestic assault cases with no criminal records of conviction for my clients;
  • acting as counsel for a key witness at the Gomery Inquiry;
  • representing Karlheinz Schreiber before the Parliamentary Ethics Commitee and the Oliphant Inquiry; and
  • acting for important political activists who are charged following protests and similar acts of alleged civil disobedience.

While these are just some highlights of the cases I have been fortunate enough to handle, this list serves to me as an important reminder of how lucky I am to be able to go to work every day to help people like you solve potentially life altering problems.

I am humbled and honoured to be able to enter my 14th year of practice as a criminal defence lawyer.  I thank all my clients, past, present and future for allowing me to serve.

Ottawa Lawyer: My Bail Conditions Are Too Strict!

If you have been released on bail, you may have bail conditions to obey while you are released.  These conditions will be printed on the papers the police gave you when you were released from the police station or detention centre.  You should study these conditions and have them on your person at all times.

To avoid being charged with a breach of your bail conditions (which is another criminal charge), you must obey the conditions.  If you have sureties, it is their job to make sure you obey your conditions.  They could lose their posted bail if you don’t obey your conditions.

So what happens if you have a legitimate reason why you cannot readily obey your conditions?  For example, you may have a curfew that requires you to be home by 8 pm but your shift at work ends at 8:30.  If you keep your condition, you will lose your job.  There is a solution in most cases which is to get a bail variation.

Your criminal defence lawyer can try to get you a bail variation when you have a good reason to vary the bail.   Often this can be obtained on the consent of the Crown, depending on the reason for the variation and the nature of the variation.  Sometimes, a bail variation is contested.  A contested variation will require argument before the court and a decision by a judge or a justice of the peace.

In either situation, the variation will certainly take days and may take a few weeks.  As a result, it is very important that you do not leave it to the last minute.  Your criminal lawyer needs some lead time to get a bail variation done.  In the meantime, recall that breaching your conditions could result in additional charges and will almost certainly ensure that your criminal charges will be harder to resolve favorably.

How to get Convicted of Your Criminal Charges

For most people, getting charged with a criminal offence is a nightmare.  All you want is for the charges to be dropped or withdrawn before a criminal trial is required.  No lawyer can guarantee that you will escape from the charges without a criminal record.  However, most lawyers will agree that there is certain conduct that will make it much more likely that you will be convicted.  Here are three tips on what to avoid:

  • Avoid being rude to the police when you are charged or while you are in the cell block.  In many cases, if the Crown lawyer is considering dropping the charges against you, he or she will speak to the police officers on the case.  The accused who was polite and subdued during the arrest and after will have a much easier time getting the police officer to let go.
  • Avoid breaches of any conditions of your release. Negotiations with the Crown attorney go better when the accused person has been well-behaved during the period of release.  If you are supposed to stay away from someone or somewhere, obey the condition.  if you are not supposed to use alcohol, don’t.   If there is a specific reason why you need to do something that your papers prevent you from doing, speak to your criminal defence lawyer, well in advance, to see if a variation of your bail conditions is possible.
  • Don’t quit your job or drop out of school. If the terms of your release permit, keep your job or stay in school and try to do as well as possible.  It is a helpful negotiating tool for your lawyer to tell the Crown that you have been gainfully occupied since the charges.

If you are charged and your lawyer is going to bat for you to get the charges dropped or reduced, avoiding  these pitfalls will make your lawyer’s success much more likely.