Five Critical Defence Strategies for Winning Your Impaired Driving Case

OTTAWA CRIMINAL DEFENCE LAWYER – During my career as a criminal lawyer I have successfully fought many impaired driving charges all across Ontario. Along the way, I have picked up five must-have strategies to fight Impaired Driving, Over 80, or Sample Refusal charges at the trial stage.

Today, I’d like to share these important case-winning techniques with you:

  1. 1.      A thorough and critical review of the crown attorney’s evidence. If your lawyer’s review is truly comprehensive, you might be able to have your charges dropped or resolved favourably without a trial.
  2. 2.      Thorough investigation of the facts from your perspective, and from the perspective of witnesses. Any skilled lawyer will meet with you regularly, in-person, to get a complete understanding of your recollection, and to gather the most information about possible witnesses.
  3. 3.      Skillful Cross-Examination at Trial. A top criminal lawyer with litigation experience can often expose errors or inconsistencies in the testimony of Crown witnesses or police officers.
  4. 4.      Thorough understanding of your Charter rights. There are a number of ways your lawyer can show that your detention and arrest was in violation of the Charter of Human Rights.
  5. 5.      Legal counsel from an experienced criminal defence lawyer. An individual representing himself in court will likely be unable to get any value from the above strategies – most don’t know enough about impaired driving laws.

I believe in providing the best possible information to help educate you about Ontario criminal laws and I understand the stressful experience you are facing. That’s why I provided these strategies to help you gain a better understanding of what lies ahead.

If you have been charged with Impaired Driving, Sample Refusal, or Over 80 in Ontario, a top criminal defence lawyer can help you fight to have the charges dismissed. For more information, contact the Ottawa criminal defence lawyers at Auger Holingsworth by email [email protected] or by phone at (613) 233-4529.

What is Disclosure and Why Does it Matter?

Disclosure refers to the evidence that the prosecutor and the police say supports the charges against you.  It is very important because you are entitled to know all of the evidence against you.  Before the case goes to court, you are legally entitled to know the evidence against you.  If disclosure was not part of the criminal process, those charged with criminal offences would not be able to prepare a good defence.  By knowing the evidence that the Crown and police believe demonstrates your guilt, you and your lawyer can work on a case to fight the charges.

A good lawyer will review the evidence in great detail to see if there is a way to challenge the evidence and try to get the prosecutor to drop the charges.  Evidence can be challenged or determined inadmissible for a variety of reasons and a good lawyer will use every legal argument at their disposal to try to challenge the evidence.  If you are not successful at getting the criminal charges dropped and the case goes to trial, it is possible to try to challenge the evidence in court.  It is important not to give up hope just because your case goes to trial.  In some situations, evidence can still be successfully challenged during the trial.  In either circumstance, disclosure is a very important part of the criminal process and can certainly help in achieving a successful outcome.

The criminal lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth have experience in challenging evidence both in and out of the courtroom.  They have success in having charges dropped and in arguing that certain evidence is inadmissible.  If you are interested in learning more about disclosure and how you may be able to obtain a good defence, contact the lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth.  They will be able to go over your case in detail and will work with you to come up with a strategy towards a successful outcome.

What Happens If I Fail to Attend My Criminal Court Date?

When a Judge orders an individual to appear in Court at a specific date and time, that individual is legally bound to appear.  An individual who intentionally misses their criminal Court date can be charged with a criminal offence.  However, the onus is on the prosecutor to demonstrate that the individual truly intended not to appear in Court.  This means that they must show that the individual was aware of their Court date and chose not to appear.

Generally, it is up to the Judge whether or not he or she accepts a particular excuse for not appearing in Court.  For example, an individual who slept through their Court date would not likely receive much leniency from a Judge, but someone whose children were rushed to the emergency room in a life-threatening situation might be excused.

If you are ever in a situation when you think or know in advance that you will not be able to attend your criminal Court date, discuss this with your lawyer.  If you only realize after the fact that you missed your Court date, contact your lawyer and they will advise you on how to proceed. It is possible that you may still be able to avoid criminal charges.  Regardless of the circumstances surrounding your failure to appear in Court, it is important that you have a good criminal lawyer who will work on your behalf.

I have been charged with a criminal offence and have a remand date.

Remand court in Ontario  is where dates for various criminal court proceedings are set.  They take place in front of a Justice of the Peace, rather than a Judge. They are generally very short – your remand may last only a minute or two. You should be present at the hearing unless you have made arrangements with your lawyer to attend for you.  If you are required to attend remember to dress appropriately in business or business-like attire.

The people in remand court who have lawyers are served first. The lawyers stand up to remand their clients in alphabetical order by the name of the law firm.    When it’s your lawyer’s turn, go to the front of the courtroom and stand in the aisle. Your lawyer will speak on your behalf, if you have a lawyer.  When the date for your next appearance has been set, you may take your seat or exit the courtroom with your lawyer.  Always remember to follow any other directions given to you by your lawyer.

If you are attending on your own, your name will be called at the end in the order that it appears on the docket sheet.  If you do not have a lawyer, you step up to the front to let them know you are here.  If you are unrepresented, it is a good idea to speak to duty counsel in the court room who can explain the process and give you advice about your next steps.

Getting Released from Jail on Bail – NEED TO GET OUT OF JAIL ON BAIL?

The Ottawa criminal defence lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth can assist our clients in jail to get released on bail. This is one of the most crucial parts of your defense strategy.

If the Crown Consents to Release You:

Often the Crown Attorney will agree to release you if the crime is not violent, not very serious or the person is not considered a flight risk. If Crown consents, your release is normally within hours.

Recognizance

A person who was arrested without a warrant will normally be released on the agreement of the Crown with a summons, appearance notice or promise to appear.

Other times, release will be conditional on the entering of a “recognizance” in amount of up to $500.

Undertaking with Conditions

The Crown could also consent to a release based on undertaking with conditions. For example:

  • To remain within a certain area;
  • To deposit a passport;
  • To notify the police of any change in address or employment;
  • To attend school (where applicable);
  • To abstain from communicating with any person or from going to any place;
  • To abstain from possessing a firearm and to surrender any firearm;
  • To report to police at specified times;
  • To abstain from consuming alcohol or other intoxicating substances; and/or
  • To abstain from taking druges except in accordance with a medical prescription

What if the Crown does not agree to release?

The Criminal Code of Canada mandates that someone who is being detained in jail after arrest be brought to court before a Justice of the Peace within 24 hours or as soon as possible. This timeline applies even if the arrest is on the weekend or a holiday.  In most jurisdications, Justices of the Peace hold bail hearings on Saturdays and Sundays.

If the Crown doesn’t agree to a release, if the Crown cannot hold a full bail hearing within twenty-four  hours, then the Crown may request to postpone the hearing for up to seventy-two hours.

Sureties

In some circumstances, delaying the hearing makes sense for the person who has been charged. The extra time can permit his or her criminal defence lawyer to assemble a strong case for release and to arrange for sureties.

What is a surety? A surety is someone who consents to be responsible for, and supervise, someone charged with a crime. Sometimes a surety has to put up or promise to pay money to the Court if the charged person fails to obey conditions of release from custody.

Are all Release Plans the Same?

No. Often, the Court’s decision to grant bail or not will depend on how good the decision maker consders the plan of release to be. Important questions to be answered are: does the person have a place to stay, a job to go to, counseling and support as required and appropriate supervision by someone whom the accused person respects. Sometimes, assembling the plan can take time.

Considerations when the Court will consider whether to release someone on bail:

The 3 considerations for the Court at a bail hearing:

  1. Is the detention necessary to ensure the person’s attendance in court?
  2. Is the detention necessary for the protection or safety of the public?
  3. Is there any other just cause requiring detention having regard to all circumstances, including the apparent strength of the prosecution’s case, the gravity of the nature of the offence, the circumstances surrounding its commission and the potential for a lengthy term of imprisonment?

Who has the Burden at a Bail Hearing?

The Crown normally has the onus to “show cause” why the accused should be held.  For some offences, or for people who have a record for failure to attend court, the onus or burden can be on the detained person to “show cause” why he or she should be released.

What if Bail id Denied?

Hire a criminal defence lawyer to handle your bail hearing before the Justice of the Peace to secure the best possible result, as quickly and as cheaply as possible.

Bail Review

Where release is denied, a “bail review” can be scheduled before a judge.   The same three factors apply, but the judge is not bound by the views of the Justice of the Peace.

Note:  If the Justice of the Peace releases the accused person, the Crown can also seek a bail review.

Sometimes it can take several weeks to get a date before a judge where your lawyer, the Crown, the witnesses and a judge are all available. The requirement to obtain (and pay for) the transcript of the initial bail hearing can also contribute to delay.

This can be frustrating and requires patience.  You can be assured that Auger Hollingsworth would do everything in its power to move your hearing forward as quickly as possible.  However, the possible delay is a strong reason to take your initial bail hearing seriously and hire a lawyer immediately.

Why is Bail so Important?

Apart from the disruption and anxiety of separation from family and friends and loss of employment, there are strategic reasons to seek bail in many cases.  For example:

  • It is more difficult and costly to meet with your lawyer and to assist in the preparation of your case from the detention centre. Your lawyer is limited as to when he or she can visit you. Telephone access is limited.
  • If you proceed to trial, you will be seated in the prisoner’s dock if you are in custody. This can have an impact, particularly on a jury.
  • If you are released on bail for months or more prior to trial, and stay out of trouble while out of custody, you will have a strong argument in any sentencing hearing that a jail sentence is not required and that you are rehabilitated.

If you or a loved one needs help getting out on bail, do not wait.  Contact a criminal defence lawyer as soon as possible.  Our Ottawa criminal defence lawyers will handle bail hearings and bail reviews in Ottawa, Smiths Falls, Perth, Cornwall, Hawksbury, L’Orignal, and many other locations.  Call 613 233-4529 or email [email protected] today!

So You Want to Be a Surety – What is a Surety? Seven Important Facts

1. What is a surety?

A surety is a person who agrees to be responsible for someone who is accused of a crime and out of custody while waiting for trial. It is a big job, not to be taken lightly.

2. What are a surety’s duties?

  1. To ensure the accused person comes to courts on time when required;
  2. To ensure the accused person obeys each condition of the bail order or recognizance. For example, the accused person may have to report to police or may have a curfew. He or she may be prohibited from drinking alcohol.

3. Does a surety have to deposit money and if so how much?

Sometimes a cash deposit is required if someone is a surety.

More often a surety signs a bond for a certain amount.

There is no fixed amount of money that a surety must pledge.  The amount will vary based on the accused person and the charges and also based on the amount that the surety pledges relative to his or her net worth.

In other words, if you only have $10,000.00 to your name the amount you may be asked to pledge could be less than if you are a millionaire.

4. What if the accused person does not comply with the bail order?

You should not accept to be a surety unless you are sure you can supervise the accused person.

If the accused person disobeys a condition, he or she may be charged with another criminal offence.

You may lose the money you pledge as a surety.

5. What if I no longer want to be a surety?

The obligations of a surety last until the case is completely over. This may take a long time.

If you wish to end your role as a surety before the case is over here are your choices:

  1. You can bring the accused person to court and ask that you be relieved of your responsibilities, or
  2. You can come to court and apply in writing to be relieved of your duties. The court will then issue and order for the arrest of the accused person.

It is also sometimes possible to substitute one surety for another, but this must be done on an application to the Court.

6. Who is eligible to be a surety?

Whether or not the judge or justice of the peace accepts you as a surety is dependant on the specific situation, including the type of charges and the accused person’s criminal record.

The Court will consider your finances, your character and background.  Although it is not impossible, it is unusual for someone with a criminal record to be a surety.

The Court will also consider whether the surety has the time to properly supervise the accused person.  Someone whose schedule is full may not be a suitable surety.

7. Can the accused person’s lawyer give me advice about being a surety?

No.  The accused person’s lawyer cannot give you legal advice.  Sometimes a surety will obtain independent legal advise ensure that he or she is fully aware of the rights and obligations.

If you or a loved one need help getting out of jail on bail, you need an experienced criminal defence lawyer.  A criminal defence lawyer at Auger Hollingsworth can assist you.  Contact us by clicking here or by telephone at 613 233-4529.

Hiring an Ottawa Criminal Defence Lawyer

We read an interesting blog post today from a Miami criminal defence lawyer , Brian Tannebaum, who writes about the client who knows he/ she is under investigation but is unsure whether or not to hire a criminal defence lawyer.  The client is concerned that hiring a criminal lawyer will make him / her “look guilty”.  Brian Tannebaum’s insightful response is that you already do look guilty, at least to the police.  So, why not deal with it responsibly by hiring a criminal defence lawyer to assist you?

At Auger Hollingsworth, we get questions like that all the time from prospective clients.  The strangest variation of this question is whether or not hiring a GOOD criminal lawyer will make the client look guilty.  Our answer?  No it just makes you look smart.

If you are under investigation, speak to a criminal defence lawyer BEFORE charges are laid.  Your chances of avoiding charges increases and your anxiety level decreases if you have a lawyer stick handling for you.  Knowledge is power.  Get an expert to teach you what to expect.

One thing we know from experience, virtually no-one under investigation “talks” himself or herself out of trouble.

The Ottawa criminal defence lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth  can assist you with the pre-charge stage if you contact our office.  To schedule a meeting with an experienced criminal defence lawyer, call us at 613-233-4529 or email [email protected]

Quebec Seeks Dangerous Offender Status for Impaired Driver

It’s a legal provision generally reserved for the very worst criminals.

A Quebec prosecutor has applied to designate a repeat impaired driver who killed a 47 year old woman last year a dangerous offender.  Although it is unlikely that this application will succeed, it sends a message that Quebec Crown attorneys are getting tougher on impaired driving, over 80 driving and related criminal charges.

If you have been charged with impaired driving, driving over 80, dui or any related criminal charge, get the expert advice you require.  For a free consultation with an experienced Ottawa impaired driving lawyer, click here.

Police Crime Tracking System Announced

A new crime tracker is now available locate criminal activity in the Ottawa area.  The police announcement is here.

Ottawa Criminal Lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth strive to keep you up-to-date on local criminal law related issues.  Why not subscribe to our feed?

Oliphant Commission: Richard Auger’s Oral Argument

On January 7, 2009 Richard Auger appeared before the Oliphant Commission to make submissions about the standards the commission should consider as it reviews the Schreiber-Mulroney affair.  The link is here:  http://tinyurl.com/dxje64.

Once you get through the intro, you can skip to minute 52 to see Ottawa Lawyer Richard Auger in action.

Enjoy!