1 IMMIGRANT COMMUNITY CAPACITY AND ENGAGEMENT (ICCE) PROJECT Provides information on justice and protection services PRESENTED BY: JOHN HOWARD SOCIETY OF LONDON AND DISTRICT
3 What Does a Criminal Charge Mean? A criminal charge is a formal accusation made by a governmental authority stating that somebody has committed a crime Police officers and victims of crime can file reports that lead to criminal charges An arrest does not mean there will be charges filed. The prosecutor (Crown Attorney) reviews everything and decides what, if any, criminal charges to file If you are arrested and may face charges, you should contact a criminal lawyer
4 Some Examples of Criminal Charges: Break and Enter Robbery Drug Trafficking Domestic Assault Threatening/ Assault Mischief Theft Fraud Murder Impaired Driving Sexual Assault Shoplifting, etc.
5 Canadian Criminal Justice System In Canada, any individual charged with a criminal offence is presumed innocent until proven guilty If the police have sufficient grounds to lay a criminal charge, the accused person will be arrested and brought before the Court
6 Young People and Criminal Charges In Canada, young people are dealt with according to the Youth Criminal Justice Act. The Law is less harsh for Young children (12-18 years) who are charged with crimes than for adults. But for the must serious crimes, children may get the same punishment as adults. The Criminal Code of Canada, states "No person shall be convicted of an offence in respect of an act while that person was under the age of twelve years."
7 Has Your Child Been Charged With a Crime? When a child has been charged with a crime, he/she needs advice from a lawyer who has experience with youth criminal law. The police have a duty to let you know if your child is arrested, charged with a crime, or must go to court. It is a good idea to be informed and involved with your child s case.
8 Will The Child Have To Go To Court? If your child is charged, they will usually have to go to criminal court at least once. If the court decides to punish your child, the punishment may not have to be jail.
9 Can The Child Keep Going To School? A child who is involved in a criminal matter usually still has the right to go to school, unless the court does not allow him/her to go to a specific school until the case is over. In this case, you can send your child to another school. In some situations, the school can suspend or expel your child, even for something that did not happen at school. There are steps you can take to keep your child in school. Some community agencies and legal clinics can help you to find out about this.
10 Will The Charges Be A Problem For The Child In The Future? When your child is charged with a crime, the police and the court can keep track of it in files called "records. These police and court records can cause problems for your child. The child criminal record, can make it hard to get a job or travel to other countries. The records may also affect your child's immigration status or even your family's immigration status.
11 What You Can Expect From Your Child s Lawyer? The lawyer works for your child, even if you are paying. The lawyer will speak to your child and make decisions with your child. You can ask or question the lawyer to let you know how the case is going. However, the lawyer is not allowed to share information with you unless your child says the lawyer can.
12 Do You Have To Pay The Cost Of What Your Child Did? If your child is under the age of 18 when they damage, destroy, or steal what belongs to someone else, the owner may try to make you pay back the cost. You do not have to pay unless a court orders you to. If you get any papers telling you to pay, show them to a lawyer right away.
13 Criminal Charges And Your Immigration Status If you are NOT a Canadian citizen and you are charged with a crime in Canada, it may lead immigration authorities to take steps to get a Removal Order or ( a deportation order) against you. This is an order to remove you from Canada to another country or to your country of origin. You could lose your status for some crimes. It does not matter how long you have lived here. If there is a removal order against you: 1. You may be forced to leave Canada and you will need special permission from immigration authorities to come back 2. Your family members who are not Canadian citizens may also have to leave Canada Some examples of crimes that could affect your immigration status: - Impaired driving - Stealing even if you steal something of little value - Assaulting your family or other people - Dealing with illegal drugs, etc
14 Criminal Charges And Your Immigration Status (cont.) If you are a permanent resident and are convicted of a crime in Canada: you could lose your permanent resident status you could be deported, and you might not be able to come back A criminal charge or conviction can affect your eligibility to become a Canadian citizen If you become a Canadian citizen, you cannot be forced to leave Canada, unless you said something that was not true or left out information when you applied for Canadian citizenship or permanent resident status
15 What Should You Do To Protect Your Status And Stay In Canada? Get legal advice quickly if: the criminal court decides that you are guilty because you still have the right to appeal there is a removal order against you because you may be able to appeal to the Immigration and Refugee Board You could apply to the National Parole Board for a Record Suspension, if you have completed the punishment the court gave you. If you get the record suspension, immigration authorities should treat you as if you were not guilty of the crime
16 What Should You Do If You Cannot Afford The Legal Cost? If you have been charged with a criminal offence and do not have the money to pay for a lawyer, you may apply to get Legal Aid Certificate to help you pay your legal cost. However, you must be financially eligible. Contact Legal Aid Ontario in London: 150 Dufferin Ave, Suite 802 London, ON, N6A 5N6 Phone:
17 HOW TO GET 211 Ontario is an information and referral hotline that gives help in many languages (24 hours/day, 7 days/week). They can tell you: where to get legal help, and how to contact a settlement agency or community agency for other kinds of help Call: 211 TTY: You could also contact your local library or a community legal clininc
18 Court Process Ontario Court System
19 What is the Court System in Ontario? The Court of Ontario has two divisions: 1. The Superior Court of Justice which is a higher court and hears more serious cases, such as: serious criminal offences, divorces, and civil cases involving large amounts of money. 2. The Ontario Court of Justice (the lower or provincial division). This court hears cases that are considered less serious criminal offences, pre-trial hearings in criminal cases that will go to the Superior Court, and cases with violations of provincial laws.
20 Specialized Courts Within these two court divisions, there are specialized branches. For example, Family Court and Small Claims Court are both branches of the Superior Court of Justice. If the court decision in a case is questioned, then that case can go to appeal. Many appeals are heard by the Court of Appeal for Ontario. This court is separate from other Ontario courts and usually provides the final ruling on a legal issue. However, an appeal on this ruling goes to the Supreme Court of Canada, which is the highest court in the country.
21 What happens after being arrested? When someone gets arrested by the police, they have to appear at the court within 24 hours Sometimes the police may release you directly from the police station and they will give you a document to take to the court If you were kept in jail, the police will take you to court the next day and the judge will decide whether to release you on bail or not After you are released by the police or get out on bail, you will have to go to court. This is called your first appearance. Your first appearance will usually be a few weeks after you have been released
22 Getting ready for your first court appearance You can hire a lawyer and if you need help paying the legal costs, you should apply for Legal Aid. If you have been charged with a criminal offence, and you have a court date but you do not have a lawyer, a duty counsel will be able to assist you. In criminal cases, duty counsels advise people about the charge(s) against them and provide information about basic court procedure. You must be financially eligible for some types of duty counsel assistance. Duty counsels are lawyers provided by Legal Aid Ontario who can assist you on the day that you are in court. Speak to criminal duty counsel about your matter on the day of your court date, before the time of your scheduled court appearance. Some people decide to represent themselves at the court, however, hiring a lawyer will ensure that you are properly represented at the court.
23 What happens at my first court appearance? Your first appearance is NOT your trial. None of the witnesses or police officers involved in your case will be there. It is NOT an opportunity to tell the judge your side of the story. It is only the starting point for dealing with a criminal charge. The purpose of the first appearance is to obtain the details of the allegations against you. Any evidence the prosecutor (Crown Attorney) intends to use against you at your trial must be disclosed to you in advance. This procedure is called obtaining disclosure. Your disclosure package may include, police or other witness statements, surveillance videos, photographs or any other type of evidence that relates to your case.
24 What happens after the first appearance? It is possible for your case to be finished on your first appearance date. However, you should be prepared for the likely possibility that your case will not be over on your first court date. You must remember that unless the Crown Attorney is withdrawing your charge(s) or you are going to plead guilty to your charge(s) on your first appearance date, the court will give you a new date to return to court. This is called an Adjournment. You may have several more appearances in court before a trial date is set or the matter is otherwise resolved.
25 What happens next? If you decided to plead guilty to your charge(s), then a sentencing date will be scheduled for you. Before pleading guilty, you should get a legal advice and ask about all the potential consequences on your ability to travel abroad and the affects on your immigration status or future employment opportunities.
26 Should I take my case to trial? You may decide not to plead guilty, then your case will be remanded until a trial date is scheduled. A criminal case usually goes through several stages before a trial date is selected. This includes the evidence gathering stage and the negotiation stage. A trial usually occurs several months (sometimes even a year or longer) after the offence was alleged to have occurred depending on the availability of the court, witnesses and lawyers involved in the matter. At trial, the prosecutor will lead evidence from witnesses and other sources to demonstrate that you are guilty of the offences before the court. Your defence lawyer will have an opportunity to question any witness called by the prosecution to undermine the evidence they are presenting.
27 What is a Sentence? A sentence is the penalty that is given to an offender who has pled guilty or who has been found guilty after a trial. In most criminal cases, sentencing usually takes place right after an offender has pled guilty or been found guilty after a trial. It may takes days, weeks or months afterward. Sentencing hearings can be very short (sometimes only a few minutes) or much longer, taking hours or days to finish.
28 What is a conviction? A conviction happens when someone is found guilty of committing a criminal offence. Being convicted is completely different than being charged, where the person has not been found guilty yet. Offenders who have a conviction registered against them will have a criminal record and will have to apply for a record suspension to have the conviction sealed.
29 Types of Sentences There are several types of sentences that a judge can give an offender. The most common sentences are: Absolute discharge (no conditions to follow, no criminal record after a year) Conditional discharge (certain conditions are applied, no criminal record after three years) Suspended sentence (certain conditions are applied) Probation (out in the community following certain conditions) Fine (the person must pay money to the court) Jail Spending weekends in jail House arrest (spending all or part of their sentence in their house)
30 Who is The Crown Attorney (Prosecutor)? A Provincial crown attorney is a government lawyer who prosecutes criminal cases on behalf of the provincial Ministry of Attorney General. A Federal Crown Attorney is also a government lawyer who does the same thing for the federal Department of Justice. If you are charged with a drug-related or tax-related offence, your case will most-likely be prosecuted by a federal crown.
31 Judges and Jury The judge is the person who is responsible for the conduct of the trial, ensuring that the roles of the court are followed. It is the judge s job to decide on the facts of the case where there is no jury. The Judge is also responsible for sentencing. The Jury is a group of people who sworn to give a decision in a legal case on the basis of evidence submitted to them in court. In Canada, a criminal law jury is made up of 12 people selected from among citizens.
32 Interpretation Services at the Court Whether you are an accused person, a victim, or a witness you have the right to request interpretation services in Ontario courts if you do not speak English or you do not fully understand English. Your lawyer or Duty Counsel can help you request an interpreter through an organization called Across Languages.
33 For More information: Contact John Howard Society of London and District at: 601 Queens Avenue, London, ON. N6B 1Y9 www. Jhslondon.on.ca or call: Visit CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario) at: Visit: ( a website that contains information for newcomers) Ministry of Attorney General: Department of Justice Canada: London & Middlesex Local Immigration Partnership:
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