Know your Rights!
Author: Nancy O'Neill Country Ambassador of Canada to the Land Right Defenders. (Peace River AB, CA Oct. 19th 2023).
Know Your Rights - What is a crime? Important information for an accused person, and the best way to proceed moving forward.
A crime is how the event is viewed by the rules that are set within society. The level of circumstances surrounding the crime and how the harm caused by the act is seen to be against society as a whole, not against just a specific individual. Moving through the court process you will have a First Appearance, at this time a judge will inquire if you wish to enter a Plea and will allow you the opportunity to seek legal counsel. If you are unable to pay higher fees for council, Legal Aide may be an option and they are located within the court house.
If you are accused of a crime it is recommended that you seek Legal Council. Always be aware you have the choice to self represent. Maneuvering through the courts is a difficult process but is manageable under certain circumstances.
There are three 3 types of Offences under the Criminal Code of Canada, Summary; hybrid; and indictable. You must know early what type of offense(s) you are being accused of and the possible outcomes if convicted. Summary offenses are less serious than indictable offenses. With respect to an indictable offense an individual may request a Trial before a jury of his/her peers.
The Canadian Constitution includes the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Charter guarantees certain fundamental rights. These rights include political rights such as free speech and Legal rights. One of the most fundamental aspects under Legal rights is in relation to Section 10 & 11 and their components.
Section 10 - The right to know why you’re arrested, to get a lawyer immediately and to be told that you have that right.
Section 11 - Rights if you’re charged with an offense, including:
The right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The right not to be a witness against yourself.
The right to a trial within a reasonable time.
The right to be informed without unreasonable delay of the specific offense you are charged with.
The right to reasonable bail unless there is just cause (a good reason) to deny it.
The right to trial by jury if an offense can be punished with imprisonment for five years or more.
All persons accused of a crime whether summary, hybrid and or indictable. Become familiar with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, seek Legal council and or court support services such as: Victim Services, Native Counseling, Legal Aide, Advocacy, and Mediation Services. Make sure if you are accused of a crime you take good notes, stay calm, complete your research, seek resources and find out what are your best options on how to proceed.
If there is a case where a Charter infringement has taken place, if you are the accused, a lawyer may use this as a Criminal defense strategy. It’s vital to educate yourself and seek all resources available to help assist you while navigating through the court processes. Your lawyer should be cooperative, informative and advise you on the best practices of moving forward. Many times cases settle before they reach a trial, this of course depends on the severity of the crime. Stay positive, focused and be a full part of your defense strategy!