There are many reasons to take your matter to trial. This is particularly the case where you do not wish to plead guilty to a charge you are facing. Keep in mind that you do not have to prove that you are innocent. Your task is simply to raise doubt for the judge or jury hearing your case with respect to the evidence presented against you by the Crown prosecutor. Where possible, you can provide evidence that you did not commit the offence alleged against you.
Protecting your Charter Rights
Providing Charter Notice
If any of your rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the “Charter”) were breached, such as your right to counsel, the trial judge might “stay” the charge against you (which means the case ends) OR might refuse to allow evidence obtained as a result of the breach of your Charter rights to be used in your trial.
To argue that your rights and freedoms under the Charter have been breached, you must provide written Notice of Application and constitutional issue to the local Crown Attorney’s office that is prosecuting the case. You must comply with the criminal rules of the Ontario Court of Justice when making court and Charter applications. If you want to argue that the law under which you have been charged is unconstitutional, you must provide a written Notice of Application and constitutional issue to the local Crown Attorney’s office that is prosecuting the case, as well as to the Attorney General of Canada and the Attorney General of Ontario at least 15 days before your trial date.
It is important to retain the services of a criminal defence lawyer to assist you with such an important application that could make or break your case.
The Crown Must Prove the Case Against You
You can only be convicted if the Crown proves each essential element of the charge(s) against you beyond a reasonable doubt. Most of the essential elements of the offence you are charged with should be set out in the Information. Generally, one of the essential elements of the offence is that you intentionally and/or knowingly committed the offence. Taking your matter to trial places the burden on the Crown to prove the essential elements of the case, failing which, you will likely win your matter. It is helpful to know the elements of your case and the strengths and weaknesses of the case against you. The services of a criminal defence lawyer would facilitate such critical information.
The Presumption of Innocence
Remember, everyone charged with an offence is presumed innocent until proven guilty. You cannot be convicted unless the Crown proves each essential element of the charge against you beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a very high threshold for the Crown to meet. For greater clarity, the phrase, “reasonable doubt” does not require proof of an absolute certainty or beyond any doubt. It does not refer to imaginary or frivolous doubt. Rather, it involves a significant level of proof beyond the “balance of probabilities” standard.
Here is another reason to take consider taking a chance at trial. You may end up winning your trial because of weak witnesses presented by the Crown. You could also have a good outcome in your case because of strong witnesses presented as your evidence. Witnesses play an important role in advancing the merit of a trial. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you have a chance at trial because there is no telling how effective or ineffective witnesses will be.
There are several benefits to taking your matter to trial. Nevertheless, it is important to make an informed decision given that trials are costly and take long periods of time. Before you commit to a trial, it is best that you contact a lawyer for a legal opinion on your matter. At Aitken Robertson, we offer free 30-minute consultations and work around the clock. Give us a call and learn about your legal options to help put your best foot forward in advancing your case.