Common Questions

What is the difference between being charged and convicted?

A person is charged by the police based on someone’s complaint that the person has committed a crime. Charges remain “outstanding” or “in progress” until your case finishes.  Your case can end in a number of ways that fall into one of two categories: Convictions or Non-Convictions.  A Non-Conviction can mean a finding of not-guilty (acquittal), or having charges withdrawn, or stayed.  A Conviction is imposed by a judge after you’ve been found guilty.

The type of sentence that goes along with a Conviction can vary and include a fine, probation, or jail time.  In Canada, you remain innocent until you are found guilty by a judge. The likelihood of a conviction for your specific charge depends on the strength of the Crown’s case and the likelihood that the Crown will be able to prove the charges against you at a trial.  You may also choose to plead guilty in front of a judge.

Why shouldn’t I just plead guilty?

 The consequences of a criminal record can be significant, and can impact your job, your ability to travel, and your reputation in the community. Information about your case may be published in local newspapers or on the internet, and a registered conviction may result in you losing the ability to travel to the United States and other countries.  Applying for a pardon takes years and nothing is guaranteed. Finding the best criminal lawyer for your British Columbia criminal charges can make a significant difference to the outcome of your case. Do not plead guilty and risk a criminal record without knowing your rights and understanding the consequences.

 

More On Consequences of Conviction

What about telling my side of the story?

By the time a matter reaches the investigation phase and you are asked to speak to the police, it is possible that a decision to charge you with a criminal offence has already been made. Someone has likely complained and alleged that you committed a criminal act and anything you tell an officer has the potential of being used against you in court. Under Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, you have many important rights including the right to speak to your own lawyer and the right to remain silent.  Do not give up your constitutional rights without speaking to a lawyer.  If you believe you have a valid defence to your charge, your lawyer will be able to determine whether your defence is valid under the law and give you advice on how to proceed.

 

At what point do I hire a lawyer?

Our office is able to assist you at all stages of a matter – during the investigation phase prior to being charged, during the arrest and bail hearing, and after you’ve been formally charged all the way through to your trial.

What courthouses do you take cases in?

The Law Office defends clients with criminal charges in courthouses throughout Metro Vancouver including Vancouver, Surrey, and Richmond, as well as throughout the Lower Mainland including Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Port Coquitlam, and New Westminster. Cases throughout the rest of the province and throughout Canada are considered on a case-by-case basis.

Understanding Criminal Records

How much are your legal fees?

Your financial situation should not stop you from getting the best possible defence for your particular case. All initial consultations, whether on the phone or in-person at our Vancouver office, are free. Our payment plans include reasonable up-front retainers and the ability to pay legal fees in monthly instalments.  We accept cash, cheques, and credit cards. For more about legal fees, click here.