Do I need a lawyer?
The criminal justice system in Canada can be complicated and confusing for people who are unfamiliar with it. One thing Michael Dyck can do is explain the legal process and procedures. He can explain how the system works from your first court date to your trial date, and everything in between. When you are charged with a criminal offence, you need to know more than just how the system works. Michael Dyck will critically assess the facts and evidence in your case and explain all the available options to help you determine the best course of action. He will listen carefully to your version of events to discover what legal defences may be available to you.
Some people think they should plead guilty because they think they are guilty. The problem is, many people do not know how to think like a lawyer. For example, did you know that there is a difference between being factually guilty and legally guilty? Factual guilt is when the accused person committed the illegal act. Legal guilt is when the Crown Prosecutor is able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused person committed the illegal act and a defence does not exist. Michael Dyck can help determine whether you are factually or legally guilty and advise you how to proceed.
Besides charges under the Criminal Code of Canada, there are many other regulatory offences. Regulatory offences are created by each province and designed to address concerns about public safety and other provincial affairs. Although these are not criminal charges, for some regulatory offences you could be facing significant fines, forfeiture of property, or a jail sentence. If you are facing a regulatory offence with serious consequences, you should consider speaking to Michael Dyck to see if he can assist you. Common regulatory offences include:
- The Body Armour and Fortified Vehicle Control Act
- The Domestic Violence and Stalking Act
- The Highway Traffic Act
- The Intoxicated Persons Detention Act
- The Liquor Control Act
- The Wildlife Act
What is disclosure?
Disclosure is all the evidence the Crown Prosecutor intends to rely upon to prove the case against you. Disclosure can include police narratives, police notes, written or video statements from complainants and witnesses, DVD video surveillance, forensic evidence like fingerprints or DNA, medical reports, expert reports, and the list goes on. As an accused person, you are entitled to view all of the disclosure because of a decision from the Supreme Court of Canada called R. v. Stinchcombe. The purpose is to allow an accused person to review the evidence against him or her and avoid a trial by ambush. If you are provided a copy of your disclosure, keep it safe. Michael Dyck will want to review it with you at your first meeting.
What happens at my first court date?
The first question most judges or magistrates want to know at your first court appearance is whether or not you want a lawyer to assist you.
- If you do not want a lawyer, the court will ask the Crown Prosecutor to provide you with the disclosure and then whether you want to plead guilty or not guilty.
- If you have not yet hired or met with a lawyer but you want to, the court is often prepared to give you some time to do so, and they will "remand" the matter, which means they give you a new court appearance in a few weeks.
- If you have already hired Michael Dyck, he can send an articling student from his office to attend court and address the court with you. It saves you money when Michael can send an articling student to attend first court appearances. Michael provides detailed instructions to the articling student to obtain the disclosure, determine which Crown Attorney is assigned, and then put the matter over for a few weeks so that he can review the disclosure with you and begin offering legal advice.
What is a retainer?
A retainer is money that you deposit with Michael Dyck’s firm, Tom Rees Law Corporation. Your money will be held in a trust account, which is like a special type of bank account. Michael Dyck cannot withdraw any funds from the trust account unless an invoice is prepared with details about the legal work performed and a copy is always provided to the client. Most lawyers prefer it when a client is able to set up a retainer so that they can be assured they will be paid for their work. Money in the retainer will be put towards:
- fees: money that is paid to the lawyer for legal services,
- taxes: money that is paid to the government which includes GST and PST, and
- disbursements: costs such as letters, photocopying, and a file opening fee. Ordering transcripts, costs for filing documents, as well as travel time and mileage are other common disbursements.
Michael Dyck thinks it is important to discuss fees and retainers in an open and straightforward manner. He wants you to understand what the costs are going to be upfront so that you can be financially prepared. He understands that criminal charges are often a surprise and many people may not be able to set up a full retainer immediately. Michael Dyck is willing to set up a regular payment plan with you so that he can begin working with you on your case quicker.
What about Legal Aid?
For more information about Legal Aid, please click here.