What needs to be proven before I can get convicted of an offence?

>>>What needs to be proven before I can get convicted of an offence?

In order for someone to be convicted of a criminal offence in Canada, the Crown prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty of both the actus reus and mens rea of the alleged offence.

The actus reus of an offence refers to the actual criminal action, while the mens rea refers to the intent to commit the criminal act. For example, in a case of murder, the actus reus would be made out if the Crown Prosecutor can prove that the accused took the physical actions that led to the victim’s death. The mens rea will be made out if the Crown can show that the accused person meant to kill the victim. For most offences, both the actus reus and mens rea must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

However, there are special types of offences called strict liability and absolute liability offences that do not have a mens rea element. These types of offences are typically regulatory offences that relate to the protection of the environment, public health, or highway traffic. With these offences, all that the Crown Prosecutor needs to do in order to secure a conviction is prove that you are guilty of the actus reus of the offence, or the actual criminal act. Whether or not you meant to do it will have no bearing on the proceedings.

No matter the offence, the Crown Prosecutor must prove that the accused is guilty of the essential elements of the offence beyond a reasonable doubt. The legal standard of beyond a reasonable doubt must be met before guilt can be found in any criminal case. This standard does not require absolute certainty that the accused is guilty of the crime, but it does require more than a reasonable probability (50%  + 1) that the accused is guilty. In any case where there is good reason to doubt that the accused is guilty, the accused must be acquitted.

You can be convicted of an offence on circumstantial evidence alone!

Contrary to what some people mistakenly believe, it is possible to be found guilty of an offence where the evidence against you is purely circumstantial.

To clarify, direct evidence is evidence that clearly implicates you in the crime without the need to make additional inferences. For example, a video recording of you stealing property would be direct evidence of your guilt of theft. By contrast, circumstantial evidence is evidence that requires an inference to be made before leading to the conclusion that you are implicated in a crime. For example, is the police find a knife that was used to stab someone with the victim’s blood and your fingerprints on it, the knife and your prints can serve as circumstantial evidence of your guilt of  murder. While there might not be anything that clearly shows you committing the crime, there is some evidence (your prints) tying you to the weapon and to the crime. Where there is a substantial amount of compelling circumstantial evidence pointing to your guilt, you can be convicted of the crime.

However, in order to make a compelling case against you on the basis of purely circumstantial evidence the Crown Prosecutor must meet a high legal burden. In particular, he or she will need to demonstrate that the circumstantial evidence against you has no other rational explanation than that you are the person guilty of the offence.

If you have been charged with a crime contact one of our criminal defence lawyers immediately, even if the evidence against you is only circumstantial. We can closely review your disclosure and use legal arguments founded in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and rules of evidence to prevent incriminating evidence from being presented against you at trial.

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Disclaimer: All results of cases handled by the lawyer/firm are not provided. The results provided are not necessarily representative of results obtained by the lawyer/firm or of the experience of all clients or others with the lawyer/firm. Every case is different, and each client’s case must be evaluated and handled on its own merits.

All our 30-60 minute free consultations are conducted with one of our Criminal Defence Lawyers and include the following steps:

  1. Gathering of some personal information about you, such as your level of education, occupation, and citizenship status. This information can be crucial for building your defence and seeking a resolution with the Crown Prosecutor;
  2. Careful review of all documents you received from the police. We will explain what each document is, and what you can expect from and need to do for all upcoming appearances;
  3. Critical review of your recollection of events, and any supporting materials you choose to bring with you. This step helps us identify possible defences and avenues for further investigation; and
  4. Discussion of the court process, our fee structure, and what we can do to help.

Beyond these steps, we would be happy to tell you more about us, and answer any questions you may have. If you chose to retain us to help you, we will immediately provide an overview of what steps we plan to take next, and suggestions as to what you should do to improve your chances of a successful outcome.

For the free initial consultation to be as productive as possible, you should bring (or email in advance) the following materials:

  • A written statement (preferably typed) outlining your version of events;
  • All documents that you have been given by the court or by the police;
  • Any disclosure you have received;
  • Photo ID; and
  • Any supporting documents, such as photographs, emails, texts, phone records, medical records, receipts, etc.

Ideally, you will have prepared a copy of these materials for us to keep, but if not, we can always photocopy them during the consultation.

We offer flexible payment options and structures designed to meet our clients’ individual needs. Our lawyers accept all major credit cards, bank drafts, money orders, email money transfers (e-transfers) and, of course, cash.

If you decide to retain us after the free initial consultation, all we need is a retainer (down payment) to get started. The rest of the fee payments for the case can be spaced out over time. We can set you up on a monthly or bi-monthly payment plan, and process payments over the telephone or by email to make it easy for you.

The cost of a criminal defence lawyer will depend on several factors, including:

  1. how complex your case is,
  2. how serious the charges are, and
  3. how experienced the Criminal Defence lawyer is.

The fees of a competent Criminal Defence Lawyer will typically range into the thousands of dollars. The good news is that only a fraction of that amount is due initially. We offer flexible payment schedules so thefees can be paid in monthly installments.

Additionally, we offer flat rate fees, with no hidden costs. It is our standard practice to review all the costs during the free initial consultation. This means you will know exactly what our services cost at the outset and can make an informed decision about how to proceed.