If you have been charged with a crime the Crown must prove your charges beyond a reasonable doubt. A criminal defence lawyer can assist you in a trial to bring reasonable doubt to the allegations. The best way to protect your rights is to hire a criminal lawyer.
In Canada, there are two sides to every criminal prosecution. There is the defence [comprising the accused and his or her defence lawyer(s)] and the prosecution represented by a government employed lawyer known as a “Crown Attorney” (typically referred to as simply the Crown). For every offence there are “elements” that must be proven with evidence (i.e.: murder, one element of the offence is that the victim must actually be dead). The Crown’s case must prove every element of the offence “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt”. It is not enough to be “probably guilty” nor do you need to be guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt.
In civil (non-criminal) law cases, the trier of fact (judge or jury) makes their decision on a “Balance of Probabilities”. In other words, in a civil case, which ever side reaches the 51% likelihood threshold is the de facto winner of the case. This is absolutely not the case in criminal law, where a finding of guilt must be made Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, which is closer to absolute certainty that it is to a balance of probabilities.
The Crown in any criminal case has the “burden of proof” which means that the state must prove their case. The accused do not need to prove their innocence. An acquittal (finding of not guilty) should result from the Crown failing to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. In fact if the Crown has not presented any evidence on an essential element of the offence, the defence can make a motion for a directed verdict at the end of the Crown’s case. A directed verdict would result in an acquittal without the need for the defence to call any evidence or witnesses for their case. A directed verdict is fairly uncommon, but it demonstrates clearly that the burden of proof rests with the Crown.
It should be noted that in Canada, there is no “verdict of innocence”. You are either found guilty or not guilty. Not every accused found not guilty is innocent. A finding of not guilty means that Crown was unable to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
In a legal system that faithfully enshrines the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, there can be no doubt that being found guilty Beyond a Reasonable Doubt is an important element of the criminal justice system. Facing a criminal charge can be a frightening and stressful ordeal, the best way to protect your best interests is to contact a criminal defence lawyer as soon as charges are laid or you are arrested. Mehdi Au LLP has criminal lawyers on staff who can work with you on your case. We accept Legal Aid Certificates.
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