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March 2017 Archives

Getting a Pardon (Record Suspension)

Have you been convicted of a criminal offence, such as fraud, in the past and looking to put those days behind you? A criminal record can hinder one's ability to work, travel, volunteer and become a citizen of Canada. In order to prevent your past on having a negative effect on your future plans, it is important to seek a records suspension (commonly referred to as a pardon) as soon as you become eligible. A record suspension will remove all information about your conviction from the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC).

What is Disclosure?

You have been charged with a domestic assault and your lawyer says "Let's make an appointment to review the disclosure". You are wondering what you are going to be reviewing. Disclosure is all the relevant evidence, on your case, that the Crown has in their possession. It will include a summary of the Crown's version of the incident, all the police notes and reports, witness statements, any video or audio evidence, expert reports, business records and any photos. The Crown must provide to your lawyer all evidence that will be used to prosecute you on the charges you are facing.

Safety in Joint Sentencing Positions

When someone is charged with a criminal offence, such as a domestic assault, the Crown will provide the accused, or his/her lawyer, with their position on resolution. This will entail which charge(s) they would like the accused to plead to along with the sentence they will be asking the Judge to impose. Defence lawyers will speak to the Crown and attempt to arrange a better deal for their client. Oftentimes a deal with be working out that is "joint" meaning that the Crown and Defence are asking for the same sentence. This joint position, however, is not guaranteed as the presiding judge always has the power to disagree with the joint position and sentence higher or lower if he/she sees fit. That being said, there are steps that a judge must take before disagreeing with a joint position, and these steps should provide the accused with some comfort in knowing that the judge will likely follow the joint position.

Eligibility for Youth Mental Health Court

Youth Mental Health Court is a specialized court in Ottawa for young persons who deal with either mental health or serious addiction issues. Eligibility for this court depends on a number of factors, ranging from the seriousness of the charges to the type of mental health illness your child has been diagnosed with, to your child's history with the criminal justice system. Further, this court is only for those young persons who are accepting responsibility for their charges. In other words, if your child has indicated that he or she is not guilty of the allegations and would like to fight the charges, this court is not for them. If on the other hand, your child accepts responsibility for the charges and he or she suffers from mental health/addiction issues, this specialized court might be the right option and you should discuss it further with your lawyer. If your lawyer agrees this is a suitable option they will fill out an application form to the court with you and your child. The application then goes to the Crown Attorney's Office for consideration. Ultimately the Crown has the discretion to decide whether your child is accepted into youth mental health court or not. If the Crown rejects the application, there is very little recourse to get them to change their mind. Given that, it is very important that as much relevant information as possible (things like medical information, history of mental health diagnosis, previous treatment etc.) is included in the application in order to give your child the best chance possible at being accepting into this rehabilitative court program.

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