The Progress of a Calgary Criminal Defence Case: Part Six

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This is the sixth article in a series detailing what you might expect in many Calgary area criminal defence cases. Previous installments can be found here:

The Progress of a Calgary Criminal Defence Case: Part One
The Progress of a Calgary Criminal Defence Case: Part Two
The Progress of a Calgary Criminal Defence Case: Part Three
The Progress of a Calgary Criminal Defence Case: Part Four
The Progress of a Calgary Criminal Defence Case: Part Five

In Part Five of this series on criminal defence cases in Calgary, you learned about guilty pleas—why they might be advisable in some cases, and the specific benefits they offer in certain circumstances. For many persons accused of crimes in Calgary and Canada at large, of course, a plea of "not guilty" is more preferable. This article provides a brief overview of what you might expect when you plead not guilty to a criminal charge in Calgary area courts.

A "Not Guilty" Plea Opens Several Lines of Defence

When you—often with the advice and assistance of a criminal defence lawyer—tell the Calgary area courts that you are not guilty of an offence you've been charged with, you are denying any criminal wrongdoing. According to the [Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms], court and law enforcement officials must extend the benefit of doubt and assume you are innocent unless evidence presented in court proves otherwise.

Depending on the nature of the offence you've been charged with, a not guilty plea can give you a choice as to what mode of trial you prefer. You may be entitled to have a trial heard as follows:

  1. Trial by a Provincial Court Judge sitting alone;
  2. Trial by a Court of Queen’s Bench Judge sitting alone either with or without a preliminary inquiry; or
  3. Trial by a Court of Queen’s Bench Judge and Jury either with or without a preliminary inquiry.

The mode of trial available is dependent upon what the type of criminal offence you are charged with. The Crown can elect to prosecute certain matters by summary conviction, or by indictment. In some situations the Crown does not have an election available to them, and the trial mode is established by laws and statutes related to specific offences.

In cases that can proceed as either a summary offence or an indictable offence, you are always entitled to speak with a criminal defence lawyer to help you make the most effective determination for your particular case.

Preparing for a Criminal Defence Trial

If the prosecution feel that there is sufficient evidence to proceed with a trial, whether as a summary offence or an indictable offence, electing to proceed with a preliminary inquiry and/or trial will lead the Crown to call evidence in proof of the allegations, and you—often with a criminal defence lawyer—will mount a defence in response.

Remaining calm during a trial can be difficult, but it is also the most effective way towards a desirable outcome. The most effective way to remain calm, in turn, is to be prepared.

Familiarize yourself with basic court proceedings by reading informative articles and even by observing other trials, if you're able. Though it is not required, you are also entitled to consult with a criminal defence lawyer before a trial and to have a lawyer representing you and your interests in the courtroom. Discussing the details of your case with a knowledgeable professional can help put you at ease and help you prepare the best available defence.

Wherever you are in your criminal defence case, a free consultation with an experienced Calgary criminal defence lawyer is only a phone call away.  Contact Susan Karpa today if you have any questions or concerns.

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