Pleading Guilty

In the news, people are pleading guilty to very serious criminal charges. There are several reasons for a guilty plea. For a victim and their family, the details will not have to come out in trial or be in the news for a long period. For a defendant, they may have certainty as to the charges or possible sentence.

A defendant always chooses if they wish to enter a guilty plea or have a trial, after reviewing the case materials (disclosure) with their legal advisor, weighing their chances at trial and understanding all consequences.

A severe sentence is not a reason to plead guilty. Everyone is entitled to have a Crown Attorney prove a criminal case beyond a reasonable doubt. Those that plead guilty,  should do so ONLY if they have committed all the elements of the offence(s). The defendant should know that there may be additional consequences. Persons who are refugees, visiting students or permanent refugees may be unable to attain Canadian citizenship or appeal their removal, and could be deported.  A criminal record may stop someone being able to travel to the United States, obtain employment, or volunteer at their child’s school, not be able to continue in their profession or lose the ability to drive for a long period.  A criminal record is permanent, so any decision to plead guilty should be carefully considered knowing all consequences, not to get it over with.

 

 

Appeals

After a trial and a finding of guilty and sentence, the defendent or the Crown Attorney can seek to appeal the finding of guilt or the sentence. Depending on whether the charges are summary or indictable, an appeal may be necessary.

Often a defendant will claim that the judge did not apply the correct law to the facts and or was sentenced far too harshly. The Crown can appeal an acquittal or a sentence that is lenient.

If a guilty plea was entered and the defendant did not understand the implication of entering a plea of guilt, the plea may be struck.

This is general advice only, please call our office at 416-469-3443 to discuss your case.

Conditional Sentences – or House Arrest

After a defendant pleads guilty or is found guilty after a trial, she may be sentenced to a period of jail with probation to follow. If the appropriate sentence is 90 days or less, and she has a job during the week, she may be able to go to jail on weekends until her 90 days are served. If she fails to turn up one weekend, she will be charged with Unlawfully at Large and have a further charge and additional time – which will probably not be weekends.

Or a defendant may be sentenced to house arrest – a conditional sentence. This requires the person to remain home except for specific exceptions, such as work, religious worship, counselling, probation, shopping for essentials. Again it is important that the conditions be followed because a breach of a conditional sentence brings the defendant back before the same judge who can order that he spend the rest of his house arrest sentence in actual jail.

Please contact our office to get legal advice about your specific case. 416-469-3443.