Domestic abuse, also known as family violence or intimate partner violence (IPV), has been identified as a major global public health concern that became even worse during COVID-19 lockdowns.
Calgary Criminal Defence Lawyer
Experienced. Strategic. Effective.
Being charged with a criminal offence is one of the most stressful experiences in a person’s life. Hiring the right lawyer to defend you is the most important decision you can make. I have over 20 years of experience in criminal law, and I have defended over 1600 people.
Calgary Criminal Lawyer
I am a Calgary based criminal defence lawyer who specializes in defending clients against criminal charges. When deciding on a lawyer to represent you in criminal matters, experience and results achieved are crucial considerations.
WHAT CLIENTS SAY
Had some serious charges and i was facing federal time. Called Susan and she was able to explain my options and which would be the best. She got me out of Remand on bail which i didn't think was going to happen because of the nature of the crimes but again she was able to help me there. After we followed up and continued to talk about was to come of my case and what will help my case best that i can do while i'm out. My case was resolved with results i was very satisfied with to say the least and i feel she listened and communicated from when i was in remand till when i sat in court the last time. I cannot say thank you enough and i would highly recommend Susan Karpa to anybody needing a criminal lawyer.
Susan has been a great lawyer. Very professional, responds quickly, and does an amazing job to get the case resolved in a timely matter. Highly recommend Susan!
Contacting Susan Karpa was one of the best decisions I have ever made. My matter was handled quickly and efficiently. Susan made me feel at ease during a very stressful situation with her knowledge and professionalism. I would highly recommend her for any criminal matter.
I contacted Susan to discuss my situation. After some discussions and materials submitted upon her advice, the case moved forward smoothly and I was updated regularly with clear information on potentials and where we were going. Then the call - good news - problem solved! That's how its done!! This is who you want.
I would like to thank Susan for helping me and my family through the criminal process. After the first conversation i had i felt comfortable and confident in choosing Mrs. Karpa as my attorney. I would recommend her for any criminal related issue you may have and her knowledge of the law was impeccable. Thank you
Susan successfully helped me with an unpleasant situation. She was effective; resolved the issue quickly. Greatly appreciated.
I would 10 out of 10 recommend Susan Karpa to anyone who asks me. I became aware of Ms Karpa's work through reading reviews on her and my gut told me she was the right person to call. Ms Karpa handled my matter with so much professionalism and diligence. Her office assistant was equally impressive at her job. They were both very swift in responding to my calls and emails. Ms Karpa took me through every stage of the court/trial process and organized regular meetings with me in preparation for the trial. She is very knowledgeable and she created the best defense for me. When the trial finally started, Ms Karpa was amazing in court. She made very solid arguments in my defense and did twice as amazing in her cross-examination of the other party. As a result of her hard work and skills, she won the trial for me. My wife and I are now living a stress-free life and we are excited for better things in our future. I am so happy that I called her during that time of distress. I will forever be grateful to her for winning my matter and bringing a sense of normalcy back into me and my wife's lives. Thank you once more Susan.
Susan Karpa EXCEEDED my expectations. I had some serious charges against me and could have done hard time, but I contacted Susan and she took care of everything leaving me with great hope and peace of mind.. Not once did I have to show up, she handled everything beyond professionally. If you are in search of someone attentive, responsive, and to go above an beyond for you. Susan is the person. After a few months of waiting, All charges were dropped. I could not be happier with the results.
I am very grateful to have had Susan represent me. She made a very stressful and scary situation a lot easier to get through. She explained everything that was happening and what to expect as things proceeded and gave me some peace knowing she was in control. Always easy to contact and communicate with. Her assistant is also very helpful and easy to communicate with. I would recommend Susan to anyone I know needing legal help knowing they would be in good hands with her.
EXPERIENCE IN criminal law
Assaults and related offences such as uttering threats and harassment can occur in many different forms. They range from mere threats to forms of simple assault, domestic violence, assaults involving weapons, those that cause bodily harm, and most serious of all, aggravated assaults.
Child pornography related offences can include allegations of possessing, making, or distributing such materials. A related offence is child luring. Evidence in this area is quite technical given the intricacies of the internet and modern-day technology.
Upon being criminally charged, you may have been released either on an appearance notice, undertaking, or release order. These documents set out conditions you will have to follow ranging from simply attending court and fingerprinting all the way up to curfews and other restrictions.
Experience in criminal law
I take my commitment to my clients seriously. I work hard to defend all criminal charges equally. Whether you have been charged with assault, a sexual offence, theft, drug trafficking, weapons offence or something else, I strive to ensure the best possible outcome.
Frequently Asked Questions
In my role as a criminal lawyer, one of the common questions you may need to ask me before you’ve been charged is:
“The police have contacted me, and they want to talk to me about something. Can I refuse?”
At this early stage, the police may want to ask some questions. It may be about an incident you participated in, one you witnessed, or one you have simply became aware of. Based upon my experience, the police will likely be contacting you about a matter for which they are contemplating laying criminal charges.
We all know that it is the job of police to respond to public complaints and to investigate crime. This includes following leads, investigating criminal suspects, and getting information from potential witnesses. Not all investigations result in a criminal arrest. However, you will understandably be worried about staying within your legal rights, while avoiding doing or saying anything to incriminate yourself.
The police often use tactics to try to convince or coerce people to speak with them. That is so they can get the person to say something that can be used against them later, and that may assist the police in prosecuting them.
What are your rights in this scenario?
In many circumstances under Canadian law if you are a suspect or a witness to a potential crime you have the right to decide whether you want to co-operate with the police, including answering their questions.
The decision to not speak to police is commonly referred to as the right to remain silent. It goes hand-in-hand with the right to retain and instruct counsel without delay, which arises anytime you have been detained, arrested or criminally charged by the police. All citizens are entitled to exercise these rights where they arise, which are protected in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
There are exceptions to this general principle, and for that reason, it is important to obtain legal advice to ensure that you are exercising your right lawfully. Otherwise, you run the risk of being charged with a separate criminal offence. It is always wise to seek legal advice to address your particular set of circumstances.
The right to remain silent may extend to police attempts to solicit your information by:
- Questioning you in person.
- Contacting you by phone.
- Sending you texts.
- Contacting you through social media.
- Writing to you by e-mail.
In this context, your “silence” should be comprehensive in nature. You may not realize that simply providing certain information that you are not required to provide, may incriminate you. It is for this reason that it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible, even at the stage where police have not yet arrested or charged you.
If you choose to exercise your right to remain silent, you may want to avoid doing any of the following:
- Confirming police have dialed or texted the correct phone number.
- Confirming your address.
- Indicating you have no information about the matter the police are asking you about.
- Admitting or denying you know another person.
- Admitting or denying that a conversation with another person took place.
- Denying you have ever been in a specific location.
I cannot stress enough the importance of obtaining specific legal advice relevant to your exact situation to avoid any complications with the police, however, as there are several exceptions to the above that would require specific legal advice.
What advice would you give?
Each client’s situation is fact specific. I would always suggest calling me to discuss your situation so that I can provide you with advice as an experienced criminal defence lawyer. Without speaking with you, and obtaining an understanding of your specific situation, I would not be in a position to give legal advice.
The right to silence is an important part of our criminal justice system, and one as defence counsel that I encourage you to discuss with me before speaking to police. That way, I can help you to ensure that you do not say anything or do anything that could compromise your defence of the charges down the line.
What if the police are pressuring me?
As a member of the general public, with little or no experience with the criminal justice system, it will feel daunting to face police questioning, and very challenging to resist it. After all, police are trained to be skilled (and often intimidating) investigators. Many people assume that the police have the authority to demand answers and compel cooperation.
Even if you know otherwise, you may feel intense pressure to comply.
This is why it is especially important to take some time to obtain my legal advice on your rights, before you say anything. While the police may have an urgent need to arrest a suspect, there is normally no urgency around questioning, even if police lead you to believe so. I always recommend seeking my advice promptly so that I can help you immediately and liaise with the police on your behalf.
Do I need to report to the police station if requested?
Generally, you do not have a duty to go to the police station to submit to questioning. This can apply even if the police are pressuring you to come in for questioning. Again, there are exceptions that I would need to speak to you about personally in order to provide legal advice.
There are also situations where the police will tell you that if you do not come to the station, they will issue a warrant for your arrest. In these situations, I will give you legal advice as to what to do in your particular situation.
The police are unlikely to emphasize that in certain circumstances, this is merely an optional “invitation”. Unless your arrest is pending, or there is a warrant for your arrest, being asked to report to the police station may simply be a convenience to police investigators.
If you are on the receiving end of such a request, it can feel very much like an urgent demand, and it is likely designed to. Once again, I can help you face this pressure, by:
- Contacting the police on your behalf.
- Finding out whether they intend to arrest you and/or lay criminal charges against you.
- Advising the police that you intend to exercise your right to silence, if no charges are pending.
Even if it later becomes clear police will be charging you with an offence, I can still assist with making arrangements with them, to have you surrender when it is appropriate and most convenient.
What about providing a sample of my DNA?
If the police have a warrant to take a DNA sample (usually a pin prick or a swab from the inside of your mouth), then you are being compelled by law to provide such samples. If you do not comply, the police are generally authorized to take the sample, by force if necessary.
If there is no warrant in place, then in these circumstances contact me as soon as possible to discuss what your options are regarding or whether you should consent to submitting to a DNA test.
What are the police allowed to search when they arrest me?
As part of a lawful arrest, the police may be permitted to:
- Conduct a pat-down “search” of your body for officer safety reasons.
- If you are being arrested while in your vehicle, the police may be authorized to search certain areas of your vehicle.
The law relating to search incident to arrest is complex. There are many circumstances where the police will have searched a vehicle or conducted a pat-down search and have located contraband. It may be that the police did not have the authority to conduct those searches. If the searches were conducted unlawfully, then that may be grounds to have the charges against you withdrawn by the crown, or if the matter proceeds to trial, the charges may be dismissed.
Again, if you find yourself in this situation, I can offer help on an urgent basis to advise you of your legal rights, to inform the police that you will be exercising them, and to continue to represent you accordingly.
Call me, Susan Karpa, an experienced criminal defence lawyer.
If you are in any situation where you are facing police questioning, I encourage you to come speak to me so that I can give you timely, personalized advice that protects your rights. This may include discussing:
- Your right to silence, and why it is important to exercise it.
- The risks of not exercising this right.
- The pros and cons of speaking with the police.
- What you may experience if you choose to cooperate with the police.
- What you should bring to the police station if you choose to go for questioning.
- What arrangements may be made to “schedule” your surrender, if you are subject to being arrested.
- The scope of your rights related to search and seizure by the police, in the event of your arrest.
Regardless of the situation – and especially in the face of police questioning and possible arrest – it is never wise to make assumptions about what your rights and duties are. If you are in this situation, it is important to consult a lawyer who will advise you of your rights and obligations. It is my job to help.
The police may contact you to advise that they are investigating a matter, but that they are not yet at the stage of charging you. Or they may simply ask you to come in for questioning so that they can “get your side of the story”. In that situation, contact me immediately.
The police will often attempt to make you feel like it would be in your best interest to speak with them. Having the appropriate pre-charge advice can be integral to ensuring that you do not say anything that can be used against you later. Give me a call and through a free initial consultation we can determine if that is the best course of action for you.
What is the difference between being charged with a criminal offence and being convicted?
Being charged with a criminal offence is the first step in the criminal justice process and usually occurs when the police arrest and release you, or simply charge you without an arrest. Your documentation or release papers from the police will specify the offence(s) you have been charged with. It lets you know what you will be facing in the courts, in other words, what they allege you have done that is illegal. These charges must be proven in court by the Crown prosecutor beyond a reasonable doubt.
If you are found guilty and the offence is proven beyond a reasonable doubt, or you plead guilty to the charge(s), that is the point at which a conviction is reached. A conviction thus means you have been found guilty or that you plead guilty in a court. Remember though, you are presumed innocent until found guilty and that is where my assistance as an experienced criminal lawyer will help you defend against your charge(s).
Do not speak with anyone about your matter or the allegations against you.
You do not know who may be called as a potential witness or what others may report to the police. You do not want to jeopardize your chance of fighting your case to the fullest.
Give me a call 587-888-7149, no matter how minor or serious the charge.
While television shows may depict a certain image of how the law and justice system run, they are generally not accurate. I have years of experience and have gone through years of rigorous education and training to handle the intricacies of the law and rigorously defend my clients. Speaking with me will also help alleviate some of your fears and answer questions you may have. I will also be able to direct you towards different resources or legal options available to you if you are concerned about finances. Your financial means need not determine the outcome of your case. I provide a free initial consultation to help you figure out your next steps based on the circumstances of your unique case.
The papers you receive from the police when you are charged will indicate the date of your first court appearance as well as a date for which you must attend to the police station to have your fingerprints taken for most offences. You must attend for fingerprinting either before or on the date listed in your paperwork. If I am retained, I will make the first court appearance for you so you will not have to attend; otherwise, you must ensure you attend this first appearance. Failure to attend either this first appearance or for fingerprinting may result in new criminal charges being laid against you.
What does it mean to retain a lawyer?
Retaining a lawyer means you are hiring the lawyer to take your case. Usually a retainer fee will be payable for a lawyer to start working on your case. Each lawyer will have different fees and different services included in this “retainer”. For more details on my fees and included services, please give me a call 587-888-7149.
What is disclosure and how or when will I receive it?
Disclosure is a compilation of the evidence the crown prosecutor has in relation to your case. It will include various documents either obtained or prepared by the police and may also include photographs, video and audio recordings such as CCTV, police officers’ body worn camera footage, wiretap evidence, and statements made or given to the police.
Should you retain me as your lawyer, I will request the disclosure from the crown. The time it takes for the crown to provide disclosure to me will vary depending on the volume of disclosure. It may take anywhere from mere days to months for the crown to provide disclosure, and it may come in multiple batches over the course of time. In most jurisdictions, the disclosure is provided electronically. Once I have obtained it, I will thoroughly review it to be in a position to give you advice regarding the legal options and potential defences available. Oftentimes not everything is included in the initial or subsequent disclosure I receive, and additional time may be required to request the relevant material and receive them. Awaiting complete disclosure can be a lengthy process at times, but is crucial to have as much of the disclosure as possible for me to make a fulsome assessment of the case against you and your available options. Consider this as the seeds for building your case and defence.
I will then take the time to thoroughly review the disclosure with you so you are informed of the case against you, your available legal options, and then obtain your instructions on what you would like to do. While I provide the legal advice, ultimately you are in the best position to determine for yourself what is an agreeable and suitable course of action for your life and what you would like to see the results or outcome be. It is an assessment you will have to make based on your own values and future plans. No one else can tell you what decision you should make or will be best for you.
Will I have to go to trial?
It is a common misconception that every charge leads to a trial. Each case is highly fact dependent and there are a variety of ways your matter may be resolved before ever having to resort to or consider going to trial.
Will I go to jail?
Criminal law is very complex, and each offence has different sentencing requirements and options available. Not all offences require or result in jail. There may be a fine or probation or some other resolution available. You may also be found not guilty or the case against you “dropped” (withdrawn). Once I am retained and upon reviewing your disclosure, I will be able to advise what jeopardy you are potentially facing.
Will I have a criminal record?
It will depend on the outcome of your case. Certain sentences and outcomes result in a criminal record, while others do not. Some are in between where you will not have a formal record of a conviction, but it may still show up on certain types of police record checks. Some of these records may be available for you to apply to have them erased after certain periods of time. I can advise you of the potential you will receive a criminal record once I am retained, look at the particulars of your case, and the proposed legal options or outcomes.
I have been charged in relation to a domestic violence allegation, when can I go home or have contact with my partner or spouse?
The documents given to you by the police or the documents you receive after having a bail hearing in front of a justice of the peace or a judge will contain any conditions you may be under and must abide by. You must follow these conditions or restrictions until a court amends them or determines/rules otherwise. Call me to discuss your options and potential to have conditions changed depending on your unique circumstances.
Will a criminal charge or conviction impact my immigration status in Canada?
Criminal charges and/or conviction have the potential to impact your immigration status. In addition to speaking with me regarding your criminal charge(s), I will advise you of the potential outcomes of your matter. The nature of your charges, and the potential outcomes will be important information for you to consider as it relates to your immigration status. I will be in a position to refer you to an immigration lawyer for a free consultation to fully review your individual immigration case. It may be that I am able to have your charges withdrawn completely, the best possible outcome. Of course, if that is the case, then the potential impact on your immigration status can be greatly reduced.
Can I travel after being charged or convicted of a criminal offence?
Being able to travel (in particular to the United States) after being charged will depend on the any conditions associated with your release, and the type of criminal or drug charge(s) you are facing. If you are planning on travelling, and your conditions of release do not permit travel, call me to discuss your options and the potential to have conditions changed depending on your unique circumstances. Certain countries may also deny entry if you are awaiting your matter to be dealt with before Canadian courts. Travel after a conviction depends on various factors including the offence and country you plan on travelling to.
What are my rights if I have been arrested?
If you have been arrested, you have the right to contact a lawyer for advice, without delay. The police have an obligation to provide you with the means and opportunity to speak with a lawyer. Speaking with a lawyer upon your arrest can be one of the most important calls you will make. Obtaining legal advice before the police have an opportunity to try to elicit a statement from you means you will be better equipped to deal with police tactics that may cause you to incriminate yourself. Contact me immediately if you have been arrested.
What types of defences are available to me if I have been charged?
Once you have been charged, the police will provide the crown prosecutor’s office with the disclosure package. That disclosure package will contain what the police allege is the evidence against you. Once I am retained, I will thoroughly review the disclosure package and will then be able to make an assessment as to what defences would be available to you. It may be that the crown prosecutor would not be able to prove that you had the intent to commit the crime, or, it may be that they cannot prove the identity of the person who committed the crime. Other defences available in certain circumstances include self-defence, entrapment, provocation, necessity and duress. Each specific case requires a complete review of the disclosure, along with discussions with the client to determine what defences are available.
Before hiring a criminal defence lawyer, the lawyer will often set up an initial consultation with the prospective client. What happens during those initial consultations will vary from criminal defence lawyer to criminal defence lawyer, but generally speaking a few key subjects will be reviewed with the client.
For myself, I always ask the client to bring with them copies of any paperwork they may have received from police. However, if you are looking to consult with a criminal defence lawyer before charges are laid, for pre-charge advice, then you will not necessarily have any paperwork from the police.
I will then ask the client questions that will assist me in assessing their case, and to help me focus the consultation on important information that will make the meeting an informative and productive one. I will also ask the client for any relevant background information regarding the circumstances of the allegation.
Once I have answers to the questions I ask, I will then provide the client with my initial thoughts on the matter, along with outlining for the client what the procedural steps are for the criminal matter, and what choices they may have to make going forward. I will provide preliminary advice and information on the basis of the information provided by the client.
The initial consultation is also an important step for prospective clients and lawyers alike to determine if each feels comfortable working with the other. Contacting a criminal defence lawyer for an initial consultation is an important first step in ensuring that you have the best possible representation for your criminal charges.
The modern Canadian criminal justice system has been established over centuries and is based on a firm foundation of legal principles, policy objectives, and social values.
It has developed with individual rights in mind, including the evidentiary and procedural rights entrenched in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The system is founded on the principle that there can only be a finding of guilt if the crown has proven the elements of the offence beyond a reasonable doubt. Because of this, it is reasonable to presume that the Canadian criminal justice system functions effectively.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Every day innocent people are charged with crimes they did not commit. In some cases, innocent people are convicted and sent to jail. This reality raises some important questions from my clients, such as:
- "What happens if I have been accused of a crime, but I'm innocent?"
- "I am innocent. Shouldn't that be enough to ensure that the charges are dropped?"
- "Won't having a lawyer make me look guilty, even though I'm not?"
The role of the crown prosecutor is to ensure that there is a reasonable likelihood of conviction and that it is in the public interest to prosecute offences. Unfortunately, even where it may be clear that you are innocent of the alleged crime against you, the crown may not always come to the same conclusion based on the information available to them.
A defence lawyer's role is to advocate for you and ensure your rights are vigorously defended.
Having an experienced lawyer in your corner will ensure that you are well-supported against the crown's efforts to prove an allegation against you.
How can I help?
Hiring me right at the outset of your matter will ensure that I can move towards a speedy resolution of your matter. From a procedural standpoint, this can include:
- Ordering and reviewing all disclosure, or evidence, that the crown has against you.
- Liaising with the crown and discussing potential resolutions.
- Providing you with legal advice you so that you do not unwittingly make any incriminating statements.
- Helping you to obtain bail, so that you can stay out of jail while awaiting your trial.
- Advising you on your options and your chances at trial if the file moves to that stage.
I will closely review your file, using the materials and information that has been provided as part of the police/crown disclosure, as well as any exonerating evidence you may have. I can then identify shortfalls in the evidence, point out discrepancies between the offence and your particular facts, and identify other points of contention.
The crown has the burden of proving the elements of any offence beyond a reasonable doubt; my role is to show as much reasonable doubt as possible. In many cases, my efforts often lead to the crown dropping the charges against you entirely, leaving you without a criminal record.
Can I help exonerate you during the early procedural stages?
If the charges against you proceed to trial despite your innocence, then this is where my skills and extensive experience will undoubtedly help you. However, there are many ways I can challenge the crown's case long before it is presented in court.
In reviewing the evidence of the crown, I will:
- Scrutinize the tactics used during police investigations.
- Examine the methods used to lay the charge.
- Argue breaches of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
- Challenge the legal validity of a search warrant.
- Examine all avenues to find potential issues in your case, to see whether the evidence gathered against you is suspect or admissible at trial.
Can't I gather evidence myself to prove my innocence?
If you have evidence that you feel exonerates you, then it is important to tell your lawyer as soon as possible. If it can support the conclusion that you are not guilty, it may form the turning point for the crown's decision to drop the charges against you entirely.
However, simply having this kind of evidence may not be enough. The key is knowing how and when to use it, and what it means to your case from a legal or procedural standpoint. This is precisely what criminal defence lawyers know how to do best, and I am here to use your evidence to your advantage.
Remember: The crown is always tasked with proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt – not the other way around. You are never required to prove that you are innocent (even if you are). My job as your lawyer is to raise the prospect of a reasonable doubt. I will help you with assessing the evidence that needs to be collected to help give you the best opportunity to achieve this. I will maximize the impact any exonerating evidence has on the crown's decision on whether to proceed against you.
When is the best time to hire a lawyer?
As soon as you have been charged – or even sooner! If you even suspect you are on the brink of being arrested and having charges filed against you, or if the police have contacted you and asked you to meet with them, then it is vital that you obtain my experienced advice right away. I can help you with pre-charge advice. In fact, you should speak with me every time the police ask to speak with you.
I will give you guidance when answering questions and filling out forms. I can also protect you from giving statements to police that you believe are harmless or helpful, but which can have the effect of inadvertently destroying your defence altogether.
There is no downside to hiring my services from the moment you have been arrested. I encourage you to speak with me so that I can assist with the appropriate advice and path forward. I will help you understand the criminal process you are up against and will minimize the impact of the charges against you.