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Viewing entries tagged with 'criminal defence'
Unsure about Legal Aid in Calgary? An experienced defence lawyer gives you four easy steps to qualifying and obtaining the legal help you need.
A compassionate Calgary defence lawyer continues her description of Calgary's Legal Aid services and how you can obtain the defence lawyer you deserve.
Cost doesn't have to be a barrier to the Calgary defence lawyer you deserve. Learn more about Calgary Legal Aid.
We know that times are tough, economically speaking, for many families and individuals in Calgary. Unemployment is higher in Calgary than in any other Canadian city, and finances are tight in many households. With many struggling to meet their day-to-day expenses, sudden additional expenses can come as a crushing blow, and many will sacrifice other areas of their lives to avoid additional financial strain.
Legal Aid is a service that provides legal advice and legal representation to Calgary citizens who are unable to afford a lawyer's services on their own. It's your Charter right to be represented by a lawyer any time you face a criminal charge, and Legal Aid helps to make that more affordable for those in Calgary who may be struggling financially.
In Part 1 of this article, you learned that not only is everyone accused of a crime in Calgary—and indeed, throughout Canada—entitled to consult with an experienced defence lawyer as part of their charter rights, but that organizations and services like Alberta Legal Aid can help you pay for your defence lawyer. There are financial and other eligibility requirements to qualify for Legal Aid; those who qualify can have the legal fees associated with their defence paid in full or in part by the Legal Aid office.
Every year in Calgary, thousands of ordinary citizens who somehow find themselves charged with a criminal offence make a fateful and almost universally negative decision. Instead of finding a defence lawyer they like and trust to work with them on their case, they choose to represent themselves. This almost never works out to their benefit, and decisions like these are responsible for thousands (if not millions) of dollars in added penalties and years of life spent in jail.
The right to consult with a criminal defence lawyer is one of the pillars of Calgary's criminal justice system and the system throughout Canada. It is so vital to the workings of our democracy that your right to a lawyer is even enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. But though everyone in Calgary has the right to a defence lawyer, not everyone is aware of the resources available to them in securing the services of a trusted legal professional.
When you've been charged with a serious crime in Calgary, your defence is serious business. You'll be dealing with the Calgary Police or other law enforcement officers, Crown prosecutors, the rules for criminal defence cases in the Calgary courts, and judges. You're facing a complex and often unforgiving system that you've probably never faced before and probably never will again, but everyone else—everyone on the other side—works in that system every day.
In Part 1 of this article, you learned that everyone in Calgary and throughout Canada has the right to remain silent whenever they're arrested and/or accused of a crime. Even if you haven't been charged with or accused of a crime, you cannot be compelled to make a statement to Calgary Police or other law enforcement officials that could result in your being charged with a crime. This is due in large part to Section 11(c) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which reads:
The right to remain silent is a staple of American crime dramas. A suspect is arrested, and as they're being handcuffed and shoved into a car they're reminded that "anything they say can and will be used against them in a court of law." Anyone who watches British crime dramas might be familiar with a very different statement on a suspect's right to remain silent:
Imagine this scenario (or maybe you don't need to imagine it):
In Part 1 of this article, we took a look at the advantages you gain by hiring an experienced Calgary defence lawyer when you've been charged with a crime. Partnering with a defence lawyer means you get years of legal education, training, and experience, and of course all of the additional knowledge and insights that this experience provides. When you choose to represent yourself, you're putting yourself at a distinct disadvantage within the complex and unfamiliar criminal justice system, and you're going up against Crown prosecutors who have years of experience themselves.
There's an old saying in the legal profession: A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client. What it means, of course, is that even the best lawyer isn't in a position to be their own best advocate. There are too many complications and entanglements to make self-representation a good idea in virtually any case, and a good lawyer knows that being able to keep the roles of client and lawyer separate tends to be the best way forward.
Getting charged with a crime in Calgary is serious business. The consequences of a conviction can be extremely disruptive, costing thousands of dollars in fines and possibly years of your life in prison, away from your community, your family, and your career. Even when you know you haven't committed any crime, if the Calgary Police and Crown prosecutors decide to proceed with charges against you, you're facing a high-stakes legal battle.
No matter how careful, conscientious, and law-abiding you are, it is possible for anyone in Calgary to find themselves charged with a crime. Many charges are quite serious, too, threatening to take years of your life away and potentially ending your career if you are convicted. Raising an effective defence is your best chance at leaving your charges behind you as quickly and completely as possible, and in virtually all cases that means partnering with an experienced and knowledgeable Calgary defence lawyer.
In case you haven't heard, drones—remote-controlled (and sometimes self-controlled) flying robots—are the next big thing. Officially called Unmanned Air vehicles or UAVs, drones are already used in many military applications and are now finding their way into other industries and into the hands of consumers.
Beginning in January 2016, a new "demerits" system will be put in place for Calgary drivers. Under this system, minor driving infractions will result in earning a certain number of demerits—negative points—that build up against your driver's license. Earn too many demerits (fifteen in a span of two years, for most drivers with a Class 5 license), and your license will be suspended.
For most people in Calgary, being charged with a crime is one of the most frightening and stressful experiences they will ever face. This is true regardless of the circumstances surrounding the charges laid against you, and whether or not you were arrested before being officially charged. The prospect of months or even years spent in jail, away from your family, your life, and your career, in addition to the stigma that a criminal conviction can carry, is enough to make anyone more than a little anxious.
The Calgary Police Service has a new Chief!
Roger Chaffin, a thirty year veteran of the CPS, has taken a vow (along with the rest of the Calgary Police) to make the city safer, and to continue an effort to focus on crime prevention and not focus solely on enforcement.
During the same press conference in which five Calgarians were given official placement on Team Alberta for the upcoming 2015 Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup, a new initiative was announced to prevent drug offences and other problems young hockey players face.
Compared to the same point in 2014, reports of crime on Calgary Transit busses, trains, and light rail are down 32 percent. Crime rates throughout the transit system are now at their lowest point in five years.
A report issued by the University of Calgary suggests that treating public intoxication as a health issue rather than a crime is far more effective both for the intoxicated party(ies) and for the Calgary community as a whole.
This is in keeping with other recommendations made by medical professionals, social workers, and researchers in Calgary and the world over, which suggest that drug and alcohol dependencies are not dealt with effectively by the criminal justice system. Treatment in rehabilitative programs is both more cost-effective and more conducive to positive results than arrests, fines, and jail sentences for offences related to drug and alcohol use.
Every year in Calgary, well over 1,000 people are arrested for suspicion of impaired driving or "DUI"—driving under the influence. Many of those arrested for DUIs in the Calgary area never even bother to contact a defence lawyer, instead attempting to resolve the issue on their own. Perhaps it isn't surprising, then, that the majority of people arrested for a suspected DUI also had their licenses suspended and faced other penalties.
I've said it before and I'll happily say it again—I love my work as a criminal defence lawyer here in Calgary.
The more cynical reader might think that Calgary's low and falling crime rate would make this a less-than-ideal time to practice criminal defence law in the city, but the simple truth is that I enjoy a safe and stable city just like anyone else.
Common assault is a charge that is all too, well, common, in the Greater Calgary Area and throughout the province. The problem isn't that violent altercations are such a commonplace occurrence in the lives of most Calgarians, but rather that the Alberta law defining common assault is so broad. This problem has been discussed in previous articles on this site, but simply put, almost any unwanted touching or even the threat of unwanted physical contact can be deemed a common assault, and can result in a criminal charge.
I've written plenty here about why I practice criminal defence law here in Calgary, and why I believe defence lawyers are an important part of the criminal justice system.
Defence lawyers help ensure that everyone accused of a crime is treated fairly, and that the rule of law is something everyone—including Calgary's law enforcement officers and court officials—respects and adheres to.
Our neighbor to the south has seen many law enforcement-related stories hit the international news of late, and not for good reason.
While it would be naive—or worse, wilfully blind—to assert that Calgary has not dealt with it's own race-based issues, including some involving law enforcement, we can be thankful that we haven't had to deal with anything of the magnitude of the several recent incidents that took place in the United States.
There's a lot more to criminal defence law than many outsiders realize. It isn't just about keeping innocent people out of jail—though that's unquestionably an important part of the job—and it certainly isn't about preventing those guilty of serious crimes from facing any consequences (despite the way the job is often portrayed in movies and TV dramas).
This is the tenth and final article in a series detailing what you might expect in many Calgary area criminal defence cases. Previous installments can be found here:
[Part One], [Part Two], [Part Three], [Part Four], [Part Five], [Part Six], [Part Seven], [Part Eight], [Part Nine]
In this article series, you've seen how a typical criminal defence case might progress from an initial complaint or investigation all the way through a trial. Though every case is unique, including in the details of each trial as it progresses, it is hoped that you've developed a basic understanding of what can be expected at each stage of a criminal proceeding through the Calgary or surrounding regional courts.
This is the ninth article in a series detailing what you might expect in many Calgary area criminal defence cases. Previous installments can be found here: [Part One], [Part Two], [Part Three], [Part Four], [Part Five], [Part Six], [Part Seven], [Part Eight].
This is the eighth article in a series detailing what you might expect in many Calgary area criminal defence cases. Previous installments can be found here: [Part One], [Part Two], [Part Three], [Part Four], [Part Five], [Part Six], [Part Seven].
This is the seventh article in a series detailing what you might expect in many Calgary area criminal defence cases. Previous installments can be found here: [Part One] [Part Two] [Part Three] [Part Four] [Part Five] [Part Six]
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:
This is the fifth installment in an ongoing series of articles describing how a criminal case might proceed through the Calgary and Canadian court system. Read the previous articles in the series here:
This is the fourth installment in an ongoing series of articles describing how a criminal case might proceed through the Calgary and Canadian court system. If you haven't already, you might want to read Parts One, Two and Three before you continue
As you might have noticed if you've read the previous installments in this article series, there's a lot that happens in a criminal defence case before you set foot in a Calgary or other Canadian court: there's a complaint and/or an initial investigation by law enforcement, the laying of an official criminal charge with the courts, and frequently an arrest. A bail hearing or "show cause" hearing after an arrest is usually the first time an accused person will find themselves in a courtroom or in front of a justice of the peace or judge, and is also frequently the first time many consult with a criminal defence lawyer—though it doesn't have to be.
After a bail hearing, you may be released or detained pending the outcome of the matter.
This is the third installment in an ongoing series of articles describing how a criminal case might proceed through the Calgary and Canadian court system. If you haven't already, you might want to read Part One and Part Two before you continue.
After starting with complaints and investigations (as discussed in Part One of this series) and the laying of criminal charges (as addressed in Part Two), the next phase in many criminal defence cases is an arrest. Arrests are sometimes made as part of an initial investigation, as well, such as when Calgary police or other law enforcement arrive at the scene of an alleged crime.
This is the second in a series of articles detailing some of the steps that occur in a Calgary criminal defence case, from a police investigation through the end of a criminal trial in the Calgary courts. Keep checking back for more information, or contact experienced Calgary criminal defence lawyer Susan Karpa for a free initial consultation.
In Part One of this article, you learned that criminal cases in Calgary—and in Canada at large—begin with a law enforcement investigation that is sparked by an initial complaint or through the uncovering of potential criminal acts in the normal course of police duty. Whether the investigation lasts an hour or a year, the decision to lay criminal charges will be made by law enforcement when they feel the investigation has warranted it.
Calgary and its citizens love a good competition.
I'm not talking about the court system or my work as a criminal defence lawyer—there's enjoyment in a job well done, but I hardly view protecting people's rights as a competitive game. I'm talking about the Calgary Stampede, the Calgary Stampeders, the Canada Olympic Park, and the many other athletic competitions that call Calgary home.
This is the first in a series of articles detailing some of the steps that occur in a Calgary criminal defence case, from a police investigation through the end of a criminal trial in the Calgary courts. Keep checking back for more information, or contact an experienced Calgary criminal defence lawyer if you have any questions that aren't answered here.
After recent mixed news regarding crime rates in Calgary , the city's fifth-place ranking in The Economist's annual Global Liveability Ranking and Report is an achievement that provides no shortage of reasons to smile.
Facing a criminal charge, a criminal accusation, or even simply being detained by law enforcement can be a frightening ordeal. It can often feel like the world's against you: no one's listening, and no one's standing in your corner.
Persons in Canada charged with or merely accused of a criminal offence, even people who have simply been detained by law enforcement, have the right to consult with a criminal defence lawyer before answering any questions, making any statements, or otherwise responding to law enforcement. This right is so essential to the concept of justice and fair treatment that it is enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as discussed in [this three part article] (http://susankarpa.com/blog/criminal-law-makes-you-your-first-line-of-defence-part-1/).
One of your rights under Canadian criminal law is the right "to be tried within a reasonable period of time." When you've been arrested or charged with a criminal offence, the Crown has a responsibility to prosecute your case as soon as it is reasonably able to do so.
Practicing criminal defence law in Calgary can lead to many difficult decisions. One of the easier "conflicts" I deal with on a daily basis is trying to determine which makes me happier: the area of legal practice I've chosen, or the city I get to practice it in.
Statistics Canada has issued its [latest report on Canadian criminal offences](http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/140723/dq140723b-eng.htm?HPA), and the news is generally good—crime is down almost everywhere and by almost every measure.