The criminal justice system can seem complex. Many people observe what they see on television dramas and may conclude that is what happens in real life. In some cases, it could be true, in others it could be false.
The reality is that many people are very unsure of what to expect when they are charged with a crime. It’s best advised that if you have been charged with a crime that you consult with an experienced criminal defence lawyer so you understand your legal rights and options.
As outlined by on the Ontario Steps to Justice website, if you have been arrested by a police or law enforcement officer, you have the right to know why, and the right to speak to a lawyer. The site further goes on to elaborate on what being arrested means, and what being detained means, and the extent a police search may be carried out in each situation.
If you have been officially charged with an offence, it’s possible you may be kept in custody and released on bail. In either case, you will have notice of when you will be required in court.
The first court date, generally called a preliminary hearing, is next, and determines whether there is enough of a case to proceed with a trial. If a trial is ordered, it’s possible trial dates will be given, and you will be ordered to stand trial. Generally speaking, this is the process from arrest to your first trial date. What happens next can differ between the severity of the charge and the specific details of an individual’s situation. Some of your options may include gathering evidence for the trial, accepting a plea bargain, or pursuing another outcome better suited to your specific circumstances.
It’s crucial that you speak with a criminal defence lawyer to discuss the details of your case. An experienced criminal lawyer will be able to help you identify the legitimacy of the criminal charge, what your options are for a defence, and the potential outcomes you can expect.