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.  

Contact Me Today

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.  

Contact Me Today

110+ 5-Star Google Reviews
20+ Years of Criminal Defence Experience
1600+ Successful Cases

Calgary Criminal Lawyer

Susan Karpa

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.

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BBB Accredited Business Best of Calgary ThreeBest Rated Law Society of Alberta Calgary Bar Association



Susan is extremely professional, excellent communication, and gives great advice. Highly recommended.



I had run into some issues earlier this summer, I immediately contacted Susan and she was able to explain the process of the courts to me. She put me at ease and told me to go ahead and enjoy the rest of my summer, and that she would handle the matter. Susan was easy to communicate with via phone/email. Would recommend her to anyone in need of help.


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.


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.


EXPERIENCE IN criminal law

Practice Areas

  • Assaults, Threats, and Harassment

    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.

  • Sexual Assault & Other Sexual Offences

    Sexual assault charges can arise in a multitude of factual circumstances, and can range from sexual assault with a weapon, causing bodily harm, or aggravated sexual assault.

  • Possession of Child Pornography and Luring

    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.

  • Drug Offences

    Drug offences are taken very seriously and thus are governed by their own legislation called the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. The new Cannabis Act also regulates the possession and use of marijuana.

  • Firearms & Weapons Offences

    There are various firearm and weapons related offences you may have been charged with. The use and possession of firearms carry strict requirements for it to be lawful.

  • Property Related Offences

    There is a wide array of property related offences which commonly include theft, mischief, and possession of stolen property. Various defences may be available to you that should be explored; the property may have been yours, maybe you had a property inte

  • Murder & Manslaughter Offences

    These are the most serious offences you can be charged with and they carry a potential consequence of life in jail. Due to the severity of the possible outcomes, they are among the most complicated cases to deal with.

  • Impaired Driving & Other Driving Offences

    These charges are relatively common and can have serious impacts on your daily life and employment. There are both criminal charges you may face and provincial regulatory consequences in terms of your license and ability to drive.

  • Release Conditions Probation and Conditional Sentences

    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.

  • Release and Bail

    Upon being charged, the default rule for many offences is that you should be released as soon as reasonably possible and on the least restrictive conditions suitable to your case.

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

If you have been charged or are being investigated, hiring a Calgary criminal defence lawyer is important. I can explain the strategy for fighting these charges, the repercussions of a guilty plea, the nature of a peace bond if applicable, and other related aspects of your charges. Contact us now for a 587-888-7149 free consultation.

What happens if there is a warrant for my arrest?

If there is a warrant for your arrest in a particular jurisdiction – for example, Alberta, or Canada – the police in that jurisdiction have the authority to arrest you. Once you are arrested, you may be released by a police officer on an appearance notice or undertaking or you may be held while you wait to have a bail hearing in front of a justice of the peace or judge.

In most cases, having a warrant for your arrest is not what some television shows and movies make it out to be – the police are not usually going to great lengths to find you and bring you to jail. However, the police may be searching for you, and if you happen to come across the police (and tell them who you are) for any reason, you will almost certainly be arrested. Even if you happen to drive by a highway patrol officer who runs your license plate through a police database – and police routinely do this – you may be pulled over and arrested.

Having a warrant is serious because you could be arrested at any time. Ignoring a warrant will not make it go away. In fact, once there is a warrant for your arrest, it will remain in place until you are arrested, or the warrant is deemed executed in court. No one wants an arrest warrant hanging over their head. If there is a warrant for your arrest, the best course of action will depend on your circumstances. An experienced Calgary criminal defence lawyer can help you through that process.

What is An Arrest Warrant?

An arrest warrant is a court-endorsed legal document that allows the police to arrest someone accused of an offence and bring them before the court. The warrant will include the accused person’s name, a brief description of the offence that they committed, and a court order that the accused person be arrested and brought before the court of the jurisdiction in which the warrant was issued “forthwith” (i.e., immediately).

Before a warrant can be issued for your arrest, any information must be laid before the court. An information is a sworn document stating what offence you are accused of, including when and where the crime allegedly happened, and why the police have the necessary grounds to believe that you did it. For most offences, this means that the police have reasonable and probable grounds to believe that you committed the offence of which you are accused. Usually, a police officer will swear to the information. The court must also consider the evidence of any witnesses it considers desirable or necessary to do so. If the court is then satisfied that the case for issuing the warrant is made out, it will issue the warrant. In most cases, this means that, if a warrant is issued for your arrest, then a judge or justice is satisfied – based on objectively and subjectively reasonable grounds provided in a sworn statement – that it is more likely than not that you have committed the crime with which you are accused. This is why the judge or justice then gives the police the power to arrest you and bring you to court.

Sometimes, the court is wrong in the law, and the warrant for your arrest should not have been granted, and you should not have been arrested. This may help strengthen your defence. For example, if the police arrested you without actually having the necessary (reasonable and probable) grounds to do so, then you may be entitled to a remedy under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, such as exclusion of evidence that the police gathered when they arrested you. This is a complicated area of law, and it is unrealistic to expect people who are not experts in criminal law to know their rights in these kinds of situations. I can help.

What is a Bench Warrant?

If you do not attend your scheduled court appearance, not only will you likely be charged with a separate criminal offence for doing so, but the court will also likely issue a warrant for your arrest in open court. Warrants for your arrest issued by a judge or justice in this way are known as bench warrants. Bench warrants can cause serious complications in your criminal matter and should be avoided. However, if you find yourself in this situation, I may be able to help. I may even be able to get your warrant “vacated”, and your failure to appear charge withdrawn. The sooner you act, the more likely it is that I can help you in this way.

Why would There Be a Warrant for My Arrest?

There may be a warrant for your arrest for a number of reasons. For example:

  • You have been charged but the police have not yet found you.
  • You have failed to appear in court.
  • You were issued an appearance notice but failed to attend for fingerprinting as required.
  • You were released on an undertaking but breached a condition of your undertaking.
  • You were released on bail but breached a condition of your release.
  • You were sentenced to a conditional sentencing order and breached a condition of that order.
  • You were served a subpoena to attend court as a witness but failed to do so.

How Do I know if there is a Warrant for My Arrest?

There are a number of ways to find out if there is a warrant for your arrest, but the best way to do so is by hiring a criminal defence lawyer to find out for you, and to help you come up with a plan for the best way to turn yourself in if there is a warrant for your arrest.

It can be difficult to determine on your own if there is a warrant for your arrest. If you hire me as your lawyer, I can make inquiries to determine if there is a warrant for your arrest. If there is a warrant for your arrest, I can then discuss a plan with you to deal with addressing the warrant. Arrest warrants stay with you until you are arrested. The one exception is when the court “deems” a warrant executed in court. Having a deemed warrant deemed executed is a challenging process, and the court will typically only do it if the warrant should not have been issued, or your lawyer appeared to fail in court on your behalf through no fault of your own.

Do not take an unnecessary risk. If you do not know whether there may be a warrant for your arrest, contact an experienced criminal defence lawyer. If there is not a warrant for your arrest, but you that you may be arrested sometime in the future, I can also provide you with pre-charge advice to ensure that you are informed and prepared.

What Happens if There is a Warrant for My Arrest in Another Province?

Warrants only apply in the jurisdiction in which they were issued or endorsed. That means that a warrant issued in the Provincial Court of Alberta, for example, is only enforceable in the province of Alberta, unless it was endorsed by another province. Warrants issued in a court of appeal or “superior court” – for example, the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench – are enforceable across Canada. This is because these courts are courts of “federal jurisdiction”, in that their authority comes from Canada, not the province they happen to be in. Warrants issued by these courts are commonly called “Canada-wide warrants”. Most warrants are issued in provincial court. Unless you are facing a warrant for arrest on a very serious crime – such as murder – your warrant was very likely issued in provincial court, meaning that it is not enforceable in another province – unless it was endorsed in that province.

A justice can endorse a warrant that was issued in a different jurisdiction if the warrant cannot be executed in the jurisdiction in which it was issued. This is commonly known as “backing” a warrant, and it allows a warrant issued by one province to be executed in another. For example, if you have a warrant for your arrest in Alberta, and your warrant is endorsed in British Columbia, then the police in British Columbia can arrest you and bring you to Alberta. Keeping with this example, in order for a British Columbia justice to endorse the Alberta warrant, the British Columbia justice has to find that doing so is necessary because you cannot be arrested in Alberta, and that you are – or are believed to be – in British Columbia. The justice can only grant this application if it is supported by proof on oath, or affidavit on the signature of the justice who issued the warrant.

Knowing where your warrant is enforceable can be complicated, and travelling within and between provinces with any kind of a warrant may be risky. The more you know, the better. If you have a warrant for your arrest in another province – or think you may – it is always best to speak with an experienced criminal defence lawyer.

What Should I Do if There is a Warrant for My Arrest?

If there is a warrant for your arrest – or if you think there might be – you should contact an experienced criminal defence right away for pre-charge advice. The longer you wait, the greater the likelihood that you will find yourself unexpectedly arrested and detained without a plan for release.

If you have been charged or are being investigated, hiring a Calgary criminal defence lawyer is important. I can explain the strategy for fighting these charges, the repercussions of a guilty plea, the nature of a peace bond if applicable, and other related aspects of your charges. Contact us now for a 587-888-7149 free consultation.

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.

If you have been charged or are being investigated, hiring a Calgary criminal defence lawyer is important. I can explain the strategy for fighting these charges, the repercussions of a guilty plea, the nature of a peace bond if applicable, and other related aspects of your charges. Contact us now for a 587-888-7149 free consultation.

What happens during an initial consultation with a criminal defence lawyer?

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.

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