Do I Need to Hire a Criminal Lawyer?

Criminal Litigation versus Civil Suits

Laws and regulations have been imposed and enforced so frequently over the years, the line between two types of disputes can seem blurry. While being a party involved in a civil case may not hold high stakes requiring the help of an attorney, most crimes will result in the necessity for representation.

Examples of Civil Cases—Defence Lawyer Optional (but not a necessity)

  • If a party cannot come to an agreement with another individual or group;
  • Personal injury claims (usually against an employer or establishment)
  • Divorce proceedings (where mediation may be needed)
  • Contract issues (breaking of; having no contract; “verbal agreements”)
  • Straightening out or carrying out of wills (or to contest)

Examples of Cases Requiring a Lawyer

  • If an individual is directly accused of not abiding by the law (or purposely breaking it);
  • Robbery or theft actions
  • Acts of mischief (graffiti; property destruction; loitering)
  • Drug related charges
  • Any form of assault (containing a weapon; inflicting harm; aggravated; sexual)
  • Murder (manslaughter; killing by influence; aiding suicide)
  • Forced confinement (kidnap; holding against the person’s will)
  • Harassment (threats; other intimidation)
  • Fraud (forgery; extortion)

Criminal vs Civil

Sadly, there are many times when the occurrence of a situation requires both types of proceedings for the case. This would happen in situations such as a car accident in which the driver had charges brought against him due to the dangerous driving that caused it. In the aftermath of the crash, the driver may also be sued by any passengers or other victims or casualties that may have suffered injuries or other damages from the crash.

Civil Counterparts to Criminal Convictions

Dangerous driving is just one of the several convictions that could potentially be brought upon a person, prior to the civil counterpart that could possibly ensue. Personal injury civil suits are commonly filed against a convicted person following the determination of his guilt of assault or criminal negligence. Most often, these two verdicts would only be reached if evidence indicated that the guilty party had malicious intentions against an individual, group, or entity; or that his actions caused damages in any way.

Similarly when charged with criminal mischief, it is not unlikely to see the guilty party then be sued for damages. Cases such as these typically deal with graffiti, spray paint, or something of the like. More often than not, the owner of the damaged establishment will sue for the amount it will cost to make the necessary repairs, at the very least.

Fraud cases are sometimes followed by a civil proceeding due to a breach of contract—usually only used when an employee tried to, or managed to, de-fraud his employer or his own company.

Lastly but perhaps most importantly, attempted murder cases can be followed by battery suits, leaving a stain on the convicted person’s record. It is important to note that all civil counterparts to criminal cases can take place with or without a conviction, though they usually only follow cases with a guilty verdict.

Sentence Determination Factors

Sentencing is ultimately decided after all litigation using guidelines under Part XXII of the Criminal Code of Canada. Along with the standard provisions, there are a few potentially vital factors to any case that could greatly affect sentencing outcome. Section 718.2 lists the principles that must be considered in sentencing if they were presented at any point throughout the case.

  • Evidence that suggests the offender was remotely influenced by a prejudice of origin, colour, language, race, sex, age, disability, religion, sexual preference, or other identical factor
  • Evidence that suggests the accused in an abuse case victimized his or her spouse or child
  • Evidence that suggests the accused abused his or her authoritative position or the trust that the victim held for the accused (such as an adult influencing a child)
  • Evidence that suggests the accused committed the action to benefit a criminal organization; or evidence that suggests the accused was influenced by a criminal organization
  • Evidence that suggests terrorism of any kind played into the event

Aggravated Conviction Guidelines

Along with the provisions mandating harsher sentences, the Criminal Code of Canada also includes a smaller subdivision that lists a few conditions that must be adhered to when choosing proper punishments for circumstances deemed to be aggravated.

  • For more common situations, sentencing should mirror those chosen for offenders of similar circumstances, who committed crimes of the same nature.
  • For those guilty of multiple charges requiring several sentences, the total imposed cannot exceed an amount considered “unduly long” or too harsh for the committed acts.
  • For convicted persons in situations where a sanction offering less restrictions may be considered appropriate, than the offender should not be deprived of the liberty to seek the better sanction.
  • After considering any specific circumstance pertaining to the aboriginal offender, every possible sanction or service that is a reasonable treatment must be thoroughly considered prior to the determination of imprisonment.

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