If you or a loved one have been charged with a crime the best way to protect yourself is to find a criminal lawyer to represent you. A criminal record can have long term effects on your ability to work, travel or immigrate.
If you are charged with a crime and English is not your first language, the court must provide you with an interpreter if you are unable to understand the proceedings. If your first language is French, you are entitled to have the whole proceedings take place in French, because French is one of Canada’s official languages. Likewise, if you are def/hard of hearing, the court must provide you with a sign language interpreter.
The Canadian Charter or Rights and Freedoms contains a number of rights aimed at protecting people accused of a crime or caught up in the criminal justice process, one of these rights contained at section 14 reads:
14. A party or witness in any proceedings who does not understand or speak the language in which the proceedings are conducted or who is deaf has the right to the assistance of an interpreter.
In other words, any accused or witness involved in a criminal trial has the right to have an interpreter present to translate for them. In Ontario, the courts screen who can work as an interpreter, and usually they will be set up to be present before trial. The service is free of charge. The Supreme Court in R v Tran held that the right to an interpreter is not lessened even if the offence is minor in nature.
It can be difficult sometimes for the courts to find a qualified interpreter for certain less common languages, as such, you should inform the courts at your first appearance immediately that you require an interpreter for your matter. It may be helpful to bring a family member who is more fluent in English with you to any court appearances if you have not yet told the court of your need for interpreter services. However, a family member while they may be able to assist you in making your request for an interpreter, is not an officially qualified nor recognized interpreter and likely will not be allowed to assist with more than very basic translation/interpretations.
Mehdi Au LLP has criminal lawyers on staff who would be happy to meet with you to discuss your matter. The best way to protect yourself if you have any interaction with police or the criminal justice system is to hire and retain counsel. Please ensure your rights are protected and call as soon as possible. We accept Legal Aid Certificates from low income individuals.
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