…you need a criminal defense lawyer who understands that your charges
In Canada, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty under the law. The police and government prosecutors will use every resource they have, though, to develop a strong case against you. Even if they are not successful in securing a prison or jail sentence, a guilty verdict can still do permanent damage to your record, credit, and future employment opportunities.
To protect your rights and ensure your case is tried fairly, you need a criminal defense lawyer who understands that your charges may involve more than just a criminal offense. Your immigration status, business, employment, and family may all be affected and play a role.
Summary means, ‘in a quick and simple manner.’ So, summary conviction offenses are typically minor criminal offenses that can be handled summarily, without the right to a jury.
Examples of summary offenses include, but are not limited to:
- Disorderly conduct
- Theft under $5,000
- Causing a disturbance
- Public exposure and nudity
Although these offenses are minor in nature and rarely subject to jail time, the lack of a jury makes it especially important to have legal advice and representation.
Indictable offenses are more serious and the prosecution procedure more complex. A few indictable offenses can be tried in a provincial court without a jury, but most are serious enough to warrant a judge and jury.
Although you are permitted to represent yourself, and even choose which type of court you are tried in, it is never recommended that you do so. A criminal defense lawyer is essential to making informed decisions and receiving a fair trial.
Some offenses can be tried as either summary or indictable. These offenses are known as hybrid, or dual offenses, and the choice is left to the Crown prosecutor. The circumstances surrounding the charge often make the difference.
For example, if the charge is typically handled as a summary offense, but you have a prior criminal record, the Crown prosecutor may treat it as an indictable offense. Or, if the offense resulted in harm or the circumstances make it more serious than usual, the prosecutor can treat is as an indictable offense.
Because of this flexibility in the law, it’s essential that you have legal representation to protect your rights and fully understand the charges against you.