They are called “social media” and “public profiles” for a reason.

With the creation of Twitter, Facebook, WordPress and every other content sharing platform our lives went from private to public in nano seconds and we seem to like it.

We share everything from where we are to what were doing and even our opinions. However, social media can be your worst enemy and karma has a long swing on the Internet. Not only are regular people like you and me on social media but, police, lawyers and people in hiring positions.

This example is not from Ottawa but, it shows what you need to worry about. A girl named Emma tweeted about hitting a cyclist with her car and how they deserved it. Turns out the Internet did not agree with her and sent that tweet to the police.  The local police, being on social media, contacted her and made sure she sent a report.

This month we wrote and sent a newsletter talking about social media and how to use/not use it to our clients. If you want this information send us an email at [email protected] and we can send you a pdf or hard copy.

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.

Ottawa Criminal Lawyer: Do I Have a Defence?

If you have been charged with a serious criminal offence, you may be wondering what defences are available to you.  We have compiled a short list of defences as an overview.  Of course, not every defence is applicable to every case.  Speak to an experienced criminal defence lawyer about whether you have a viable defence to your case.

Alibi:  This is a defence that can be raised where the accused could not have committed the offence because he was not physically present at the location of the offence when it occurred.  If the court concludes that the accused did not have the opportunity to commit the offence because he was elsewhere, the accused may be found not guilty.

If an accused maintains that he was elsewhere at the time of the offence, it is critical that this be discussed privately with an experienced criminal defence lawyer.  This is important because it may be necessary to privately interview witnesses and secure evidence to confirm that the accused was at a location other than where the offence occurred.  It is also important to discuss this privately with an experienced criminal defence lawyer because the lawyer will need to decide when and how to provide the necessary notice of the alibi to the crown.  Although usually the defence does not have to disclose anything to the crown, the law does suggest that the crown and police should be given a reasonable opportunity to investigate any alibi defence.  If this notice is not given, the alibi defence can be rejected by the court.

Provocation:  This is a defence which is commonly misunderstood.  Provocation can only be used to reduce the charge of murder to manslaughter.  Provocation is not a defence to other circumstances.  Generally, the accused must have committed the offence “in the heat of passion caused by sudden provocation”.  It must be a wrongful act of such a nature that it would deprive an ordinary person of the ability to self control.  The accused must have acted suddenly before there was any time to consider the actions or to cool his passion.

Self Defence:  This is a defence that may be available to a person who committed the wrongful but did so to prevent harm to him ro herself,  to others under their protection or to their property.

This defence is complicated and it is therefore critical that the accused discuss with an experienced criminal defence lawyer the circumstances of any possible self defence.  Generally, there needs to be evidence of the “necessity” to have committed the act by using force and the force used needs to be “reasonable”.

Automatism: This is a defence where the accused is in a state of impaired consciousness with no voluntary control over his or her actions.

Intoxication:  Intoxication may render an accused’s actions involuntary and therefore the accused may not have formed the mental intention to commit the offence.  There are complicated issues surrounding whether or not the intoxication was voluntary or involuntary.

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.

A Painless Trick for Finding a Great Criminal Defence Lawyer

Ottawa Criminal Lawyer
Lawyer Richard Auger Prepares a Case

If you have been charged with a criminal offence, now is the time to take the responsible step of hiring the best Ottawa criminal defence lawyer for your case.   How do you do that?

Many accused start with the list of lawyers they receive at the Ottawa police station.  Maybe you were charged late at night and called for legal advice from the jail.  Is that the person who you want to handle your very serious case? Consider whether the experienced lawyer you want on your case is answering his phone in the middle of the night. Many lawyers consider the midnight calls to be the role for very junior counsel.

A second place you may look for an experienced criminal defence lawyer is the Yellow Pages.  Do you find you can obtain meaningful information from a Yellow Pages ad?  Many prospective clients have noted that the lawyers in the Yellow Pages pretty much all sound the same.

You are probably getting closer by checking out the lawyer’s website.  Does the website include helpful information, available for free, to answer your basic questions?  Does the website include case results and client testimonials?  The more helpful information you get from the defence lawyer’s website, the more comfortable you may feel knowing (a) that this is a real criminal defence lawyer who knows his stuff and (b) that this is a lawyer who will take the time to explain and educate you about the legal process.

Without exception, however, there is no substitute for meeting face to face with the criminal defence lawyer for a free consultation.  The lawyer should welcome you to meet him at his office.  The lawyer’s staff should be courteous.  The lawyer should actively answer your questions and talk specifically about your case.  (Having said that, no lawyer will be able to predict the outcome of your case at the initial client meeting.)  At the meeting you should take the time to ask all the questions you have about trial experience, past cases on similar charges and anything else you want to know before selecting a lawyer.  A competent criminal defence lawyer will make you feel comfortable while you ask the questions you need to make an excellent choice.

How Do I Choose a Lawyer for my Impaired Driving Case?

It is not easy to pick an impaired driving lawyer when you are not a lawyer yourself. In many ways, they all look the same. But are they? Here are some facts to consider:

Fact #1

Not all lawyers have the same experience. A lawyer may have a great resume and might have argued many high profile cases. But, if your lawyer does not have specific experience fighting impaired driving charges, you should keep looking. The law surrounding impaired driving, over 80, and related charges is technical and constantly changing. You need someone who is current on the law.

Fact #2

Just because a lawyer advertises that he or she is a criminal lawyer, that does not mean that he or she has defended any, or many, impaired driving or related charges. You must ask!

Fact #3

Not every lawyer who takes impaired driving cases is willing to take them to trial. Some lawyers are able and willing to try to get you a good deal for your charges. However, if no deal is offered, they will encourage you to plead guilty rather than running a trial for you. While sometimes a guilty plea makes sense, you should never feel like you don’t have a choice.

Fact #4

The Legal Aid list, or an internet lawyer directory service, or the yellow pages is not the way to find the best impaired driving lawyer for your case. None of those listings do any review to ensure that the lawyer listed has experience in the particular area. There is no substitute for your own research and for interviewing the lawyer.

Purchasing Car Insurance in Kentucky

One of the most important decisions you make to protect your family is what auto insurance to purchase.  Here is a great new resources for residents of Kentucky: “What You Don’t Know About Buying Car Insurance Can Hurt You: Kentucky’s Ultimate Guide for Buying Car Insurance that Will Financially Protect your Family”.

Kentucky personal injury lawyer Micheal A. Schafer has recently written this book to inform the public about different types of insurance coverages available.  For a limited time, Mike Schafer is offering this vital guide free to those living in the Kentucky area.

For more information about Michael A. Schafer or about  “What You Don’t Know About Buying Car Insurance Can Hurt You”, visit www.mikeschaferlaw.com.

Juror Excused from Court Due to Bad Body Odour

A Massachusetts Superior Court Judge dismissed a juror based on body odour.   The Judge felt that the stench would distract the other jurors.

The accused was ultimately convicted of a second degree murder.  The accused appealed on the basis that he was not given a fair trial due to the dismissal of the juror.  His conviction was affirmed by the state Appeals Court. The Court held that dismissing a juror because of body odour is acceptable.

Events like these are difficult to avoid, but hiring an experienced lawyer can limit many unpleasant surprises.  Call Auger Hollingsworth at 613-233-4529 or email us to book a free consultation.