The Progress of a Calgary Criminal Defence Case: Part 8

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This is the eighth article in a series detailing what you might expect in many Calgary area criminal defence cases. Previous installments can be found here: 
[Part One], [Part Two], [Part Three], [Part Four], [Part Five], [Part Six], [Part Seven].

As discussed in several previous installments in this series, some alleged crimes in Canada can be tried as either summary offences or as indictable offences, which often carry different sentencing risks. Crown prosecutors are tasked with determining which trial type to proceed with in these "hybrid offence" cases—they must make an election to prosecute these matters with either a summary proceeding or an indictable proceeding.

If the prosecution elects to proceed by way of a summary offence, then the matter will be heard at the Provincial court either in Calgary or in one of the surrounding regions, depending on which region has jurisdiction over the matter. If the Crown elects to proceed by way of a summary offence—which is generally seen as less serious in terms of the offence and sentencing—you are still entitled to consult with a criminal defence lawyer and to have a lawyer represent you in the Calgary and regional courts.

Criminal Defence in a Summary Offence Trial

Some criminal acts in Canada can only charged and tried as summary offences—disturbing the peace and other so-called "petty" crimes, for example. Certain other crimes, including DUI/DWI charges and many drug offences, can be charged and tried as summary offences instead of indictable offences at the full discretion of Crown prosecutors.

When an accused person arrives at a summary offence trial, they will tend to face a lighter possible sentence than if they were going through an indictable offence trial for the same alleged criminal acts. They will also only have their defence case heard by a judge in a Calgary or regional courtroom, rather than by a jury of local peers. These are the two primary the differences between summary offence and indictable offence trials that will affect defence strategy; lighter potential sentences following a guilty verdict are a clear advantage to summary offence trials in many cases, yet the presentation of your defence case to a only a judge rather than to a judge and jury usually requires a very different approach than might be used with a jury trial.

A Calgary Criminal Defence Lawyer Can Help

Determining how to prepare for a summary offence trial—and actually preparing an effective criminal defence for such a trial—can be a daunting task for many residents of Calgary and the surrounding area. This is why Canadian criminal justice law allows accused persons to consult with licensed criminal defence lawyers at every part of a criminal defence proceeding. The informed input of a criminal defence professional can help make effective strategy decisions in presenting a defence case.

For a free consultation with an experienced Calgary criminal defence lawyer, contact Susan Karpa today.

 

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