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About Criminal Law In B.C. Canada

 Law & Order.  LA Law.  Street Legal.  Presumed Innocent.  These are pictures of the criminal justice system which we have from TV.  The reality is somewhat different... horizontal rule

Presumption of innocence

In Canada, people are presumed innocent until they are proven guilty in Court.. Our whole system of criminal law works under this principle and it effects many different aspects of our criminal law system.

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Right to remain silent

You've heard the police say on TV, "You have the right to remain silent. Anything that you say may be used against yourself." It's true. If you are accused of a crime, you're not required to say anything to the police other than basic information required by the police to identify you.

There are some exceptions to this general rule. For example, refusing to take a breathalyzer test is a specific criminal offence.

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Proof beyond a reasonable doubt

There is a maxim that it is better that 10 guilty men go free than one innocent man be wrongly convicted. In court, the crown prosecutor will present evidence that you committed a specific criminal offence, and must prove its case "beyond a reasonable doubt". It's not enough to show that there's better than a 50/50 chance that you did it, or even a 60/40; the test is beyond a reasonable doubt.

Your lawyer will challenge this evidence to contradict the crown's case. He or she doesn't need to prove that you didn't do it; he or she just needs to raise a "reasonable doubt" as to the crown's case. Like O.J. Simpson, you don't have to testify to prove your innocence; you can just attack the crown's case.

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Due process

You also have the right to "due process". That means that the police and the crown prosecutor must abide by your constitutional rights when they gather evidence and present your case to the court. If the police illegally invade your privacy or property in order to gather evidence against you, they may not be able to use in court against you.

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Kinds of criminal offences

There are two types of criminal offences: summary conviction offences and indictable offences.

Summary conviction offences are less serious, and generally have a maximum sentence of a $2000 fine and up to eighteen months in jail. These are usually dealt with in Provincial Court which is the lower level Court in British Columbia.

Indictable offences are more serious, and can have penalties as high as life imprisonment. These offences may be heard in Supreme Court or Provincial Court, and may be heard by a judge and jury, or else a judge alone.

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More questions?

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Legal disclaimer:  The information provided on Lawyers-BC.Com is not intended to be legal advice, but merely conveys general information related to legal issues commonly encountered. Your access to and use of this Web site is subject to additional terms and conditions.

This page last updated: December 3, 1999
© copyright 1999 Lawyers-BC.Com Services Ltd.

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Serving Metro Vancouver - Surrey, B.C. & King County, Washington State

Dil Gosal, JD Juris Doc,  LLM Master of Laws - BC Criminal Defense Lawyer also is licensed as a practising Criminal defense attorney in Washington State. York Business Park
# 205, 12888-80th Avenue
Surrey, B.C.
Canada, V3W 3A8
Phone: 604.598.1118
E-mail: WABCLawyers@aol.com
Web site: www.GosalLaw.com

Dilraj (Dil) Gosal, BA JD LLM
Criminal Defense & Personal Injury Lawyer Represents Clients For:

  • Aggravated assault
  • Attempted murder & Murder charges
  • Criminal Negligence
  • D.U.I.
  • Motor vehicle / car accident personal injuries I.C.B.C. insurance claims disputes
Contact Dil Gosal at:
York Business Park
# 205, 12888-80th Avenue
Surrey, B.C.
Canada, V3W 3A8
Phone: 604.598.1118
E-mail: WABCLawyers@aol.com

Serving Victoria - Capital Region District & Southern Vancouver Island

Geofrey Simair, Criminal Defense Lawyer at his desk near Downtown Bay Centre in Victoria, BC

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Preferred area of practice:  criminal law

Geof has served criminal defense clients from his offices in the heart of downtown Victoria for over 14 years.

Geofrey D. Simair Law Corporation
203 - 1005 Broad Street
Victoria, BC, Canada V8W 2A1
Phone:  250 385-4500
Email:  simair-criminal-law@lawyers-bc.com