If you have been charged with a crime, the best way to protect yourself is to hire a criminal defence lawyer to work on your case and protect your rights.
If you are charged with a crime, the state must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to the trier of fact (judge or jury) in order for you to be convicted of a crime. In order to convict someone, the Crown (prosecuting lawyer) must have evidence to support their version of events. Evidence is typically gathered by the police and given to the Crown.
Type of Evidence Included in Disclosure
When you attend court on the first date, there will usually be a disclosure package available for pick up. Either you or your defence lawyer can sign for the package. There can be all sorts of evidence included in disclosure including photos, statements by witnesses, surveillance footage, 911 call recordings, police note pad entries, police surveillance recordings, forensic evidence (in more serious cases), copies of text or email messages, etc. Often there may be additional disclosure made available at later court dates. If there is key evidence missing (i.e.: a 911 call recording) an accused person or their lawyer can request it from the Crown before trial. Often a disclosure package will also contain a “screening” form, containing the Crown’s first plea position if the accused pleads guilty before trial.
Obligation to Disclose Evidence
The Crown is obliged to disclose all relevant evidence to the Defence, occasionally there may be disputes on what constitutes “relevant” evidence, and the court may need to make a ruling before a hearing. If the Crown fails to disclose evidence, they should be barred from using it at trial. However, this does not mean that the Crown needs to disclose their strategy nor explain how they will use the evidence. In most circumstances the Defence does not need to disclose their evidence to the Crown, subject to certain, narrow fact specific exceptions.
Usually when you pick up disclosure you must sign an agreement not to distribute disclosure to parties not involved in the case.
If you have been charged with a crime, it can be difficult to make sense of the Crown’s evidence. Being charged with a crime can be a frightening prospect, being faced with a package of indecipherable evidence can only heighten the urgency of a criminal matter. The best way to protect yourself at any stage of the criminal process is to hire a criminal defence lawyer to represent you. Mehdi Au LLP has experienced criminal defence lawyers who can work on your case. We accept Legal Aid Certificates, from low income persons seeking representation.
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