How Elections Affect Your Procedural Rights

As the elections numbers have shown us, not everyone votes. Some do this because they reason that their votes won’t have any effect in any event. Nevertheless, whether you vote or not, the people that you elect have a huge impact on your procedural rights should you ever get caught up in the criminal justice system. Everything from legal aid to how much public sector employees get paid can be subject to the debate by politicians that are elected to political office.

Recent conversations with clients of mine have made me realize that the magnitude of important procedural changes enacted by politicians at the federal level have not entered into the normal everyday conversations of the average citizen.

A lot of Canadians don’t realize that through Bill C-75 (that came into being within the last month), they have lost the right to peremptory challenges when selecting a jury and the right to a preliminary hearing to see if the crimes you’ve been accused of have any merit to them, with the only exceptions being crimes that have a potential penalty of 14+ years such as Murder and other serious crimes found in the criminal code.

In the end, is this end result of a lack of basic knowledge about procedural changes because a lot of people don’t vote? Rather, I’d say that it is more so a symptom of a society that is apathetic towards political issues. It is one thing not to partake in a system and another to completely ignore it altogether.

Failure to Remain

Failure to remain is an offence under most provincial statutes. However, the criminal code of Canada actually has failure to stop after accident under section 320.16.  The main difference between the two is that if you’re charged under the criminal code you could possibly face jail time if convicted. You could, of course, be charged with both in which case you may face jail time in addition to the driver’s licence restrictions that would come with the provincial penalty.

Where you fail to stop at the scene of an accident with another vehicle, bicycle, human or someone’s cattle and you do not attempt to give or leave your contact information, there is a presumption that you were trying to leave the scene without getting caught by the authorities.

You should stop, if you are driving and you believe that you have hit an object.

Bench Warrants

I often get a calls from people saying that the court ordered a bench warrant after they missed a court date. It’s often second-hand information, in that someone that they know was at the courthouse, heard their name called and then relayed the information about the bench warrant to them.

Essentially, there are two possibilities in terms of a bench warrant. One is a bench warrant where the police can arrest you at any time after they have actually received the information from the court and the second is a discretionary bench warrant which is often called a bench warrant with discretion where the court is asking you to come to your next court date because you missed the previous one. The warrant will not be executed until your next court date. They will subsequently rescind the warrant if you attend the next court date or fulfill the demand that they made of you at the previous court appearance. The next date is usually a week after your missed court date.

Either way you should call the courthouse to find out which one it was.

Peace Bonds, Discharges and Suspended Sentences

With a peace bond (s.810 or Common Law), there is no admission of guilt or wrongdoing. It is merely an agreement of certain facts relating to the incident and a promise to keep the peace with another party.

If a person is to plead ‘guilty’, a discharge is the most favourable sentence that one can get. Discharges are not permanent records in that they are supposed to be expunged after a certain amount of time. This can range from anywhere between 6 months to three years.

The main difference between a conditional discharge and an absolute discharge is the fact that a conditional discharge comes with ‘conditions’ that you have to follow (probation etc.) for a set period of time. An absolute discharge on the other hand has no conditions attached to it.

While neither is a conviction, they are both a finding of guilt. Practically speaking, with a discharge you can honestly say that you’ve never been convicted of the offence, but you can’t say that you’ve never been found guilty of an offence.

Like a conditional discharge, a suspended sentence involves following conditions in a probation period for a period of one to three years.

The real difference between a conditional discharge and a suspended sentence is that a conviction is registered against you. This means you’ll have a criminal record and will have to apply for a pardon to have the conviction removed from your record.

Da Chip

Unfortunately, I was in Paris while the Raptors won the NBA Finals, but I got to rep them nonetheless while I was there.

My experiences during my trip to France greatly aided my understanding of criminal law and offered a new perspective. I am now back and ready to help those that want to help themselves. If you or someone you know needs help to face charges, contact me at 647-760-0166.

Now and forever…LET’S GO RAPTORS!

Legal Aid Cuts

Doug Ford’s Conservative government has severely slashed the Legal Aid budget in the province of Ontario. This has affected many services that both clients and Legal Aid staff may have taken for granted in the past. As well, it’s clear that less Legal Aid certificates will be issued in the future. The government may be more stringent in regards to scrutinizing the certificates and the  expenses that are claimed

Nevertheless, I will continue to accept Legal Aid and continue to serve those that I can’t afford the higher rates on offer elsewhere, while offering superior work. I feel it is my responsibility to do so considering my humble beginnings. It’s only fair that I aid those that helped me get to where i am today.

For more information on my acceptation of Legal Aid certificates, contact Pierre Bonsu at 647-760-0166

The Journey Begins

The right guide can help you through rough terrain.

The Journey of a thousand miles starts with one step. — Lao Tzu

For those caught up in the criminal justice system, it often seems a daunting task to find a way out. This is primarily why I started, as a venture to aid those that want a simplified avenue to getting their lives back together again. With my positive outlook, I may be able to help you or your loved ones.

At times, it seems as if there is no way out. However, my legal expertise in the criminal defence arena is geared so that the accused can quickly navigate through the criminal justice system in the hopes of achieving the end result that they desire.