Being charged with a criminal offense, whether major or minor, is a serious matter, which is why it’s helpful to have criminal defense lawyers in your corner. A person facing criminal charges risks severe penalties and consequences, such as jail time, having a criminal record, loss of relationships and future job prospects, and more. The punishment for criminal offenses in Canada depends on the nature of the crime. In some cases, people serve jail time for crimes they have not committed.
Unfortunately, when someone accuses you of a crime, and you get charged for it, the only way to avoid punishment is by proving your innocence. This is not always easy without the help of experienced criminal defense lawyers. While some legal matters can be handled alone, a criminal arrest of any nature warrants the legal advice of a qualified criminal defense lawyer who can protect your rights and secure the best possible outcome for your case.
Assuming that there is overwhelming evidence against you, it is still important to engage a lawyer throughout the case. As mentioned earlier, some people serve jail time or face other punishments not because they deserve it but simply because they do not have the right legal representation.
How Bykov Criminal Defense Lawyers Can Help
If you are facing a criminal conviction, a criminal defense lawyer can help you understand
- the nature of the charges;
- any available defenses;
- what plea bargains are likely to be offered; and
- what is expected after trial or conviction
Dealing with your criminal matter on your own can be an overwhelming and stressful experience, so if you or your loved one has been charged with a criminal offense, it is crucial to speak to a defense lawyer at the early stage of your case. A good criminal defense lawyer can reduce the severity of the punishment for a crime and minimize or eliminate jail time. In addition, a criminal defense lawyer can help you develop a sound defense strategy.
Depending on the evidence that the state has against you, a resolution without a trial may be necessary. Often, the prosecution has weaknesses in their case, and a lawyer can articulate reasons why your case should be dismissed, or a better resolution should be offered. When facing the prospect of a criminal conviction, probation, or prison, you should never stand by yourself. The state has lawyers to prosecute your case, and you should also have a defense lawyer on your side to protect your rights and freedom.
Further, a criminal defense lawyer can raise constitutional issues that are evident in your case that can persuade the state to withdraw the charge(s) against you or offer a more favorable resolution for your matter. A defense lawyer can protect you from the power and the force of the state. Sometimes, it is necessary to hire experts to educate the prosecution and ultimately a jury. Identifying potential constitutional and factual issues and possible defenses is an essential element in defending all cases.
At Bykov Law, our criminal defense lawyers in Toronto, ON, handle a wide range of criminal cases. Here are just a few examples:
What if You’ve Been Arrested for Assault and Need Criminal Defense Lawyers?
The most common form of assault is simple assault, which can be prosecuted in one of two ways. If you are charged with simple assault the Crown elects to proceed by summary conviction, this means that the maximum penalty the Crown can seek upon conviction is six months in jail. However, there are many other types of resolutions that lawyers at Bykov Law can negotiate on your behalf with minimum consequences for you. Usually, if the Crown proceeds with a charge of assault, you do not have a right of election and your case will be tried in the Ontario Court of Justice and it will be judge alone trial, without a jury. More severe cases of assaults are indictable offenses, requiring an accused to elect the mode of trial, whether with a judge alone or a judge and a jury. As well, an accused can elect which court his or her matter will be heard.
Whatever type of assault you may be charged with, it is essential that you speak to a Toronto assault defense lawyer as quickly as possible. Lawyers from Bykov Law have the experience and tenacity necessary to secure the best outcome available in the circumstances. It is never a good idea to attempt to handle assault charges on your own since you will be faced with a criminal justice system on your own and in most cases, it will be difficult for you to navigate through the criminal justice system on your own. At Bykov Law we will first look at your case from every angle to determine whether there are facts that might entitle you to a defense, or whether the Crown has issues in the case that might assist you. At Bykov Law, once we are retained, we review disclosure and examine the evidence, and arrange meetings with the Crown and Judges to seek the best possible outcome for you. At Bykov Law we are doing our best at every stage of your case to protect your rights and to make sure that you have the best possible outcome.
Definitions Related to the Following Types of Assault
There are several different types of assault, including:
- Assault Causing Bodily Harm—Simple Assault takes a much more serious turn when the victim has bodily harm resulting from the assault. Like Simple Assault, Assault Causing Bodily Harm can be an indictable offense that carries up to 10 years in prison or a super summary conviction with a maximum penalty of 18 months in jail.
- Assault with a Weapon—When an assault includes a knife, gun, or any other type of weapon, it immediately becomes more serious than Simple Assault, even if the victim was not physically harmed. Assault with a Weapon carries similar penalties as Assault Causing Bodily Harm. It should be noted that a weapon can be an object, for example, a book or a pencil.
- Sexual Assault—A threat of violence combined with circumstances of a sexual nature. The court may consider words, gestures, threats as well as the nature of contact and the part of the body being touched. Note that Sexual Assault does not require sexual gratification as a condition. A simple gesture of sexual nature can be classified as a sexual assault.
- Aggravated Assault—This is one of the most serious forms of assault. By definition, the injuries resulting from Aggravated Assault are substantial, up to and including endangering one’s life. Such a charge is always an indictable offense, the maximum sentence for Aggravated Assault is 14 years in prison.
- Domestic Assault—Any assault on a family or household member can result in Domestic Assault charges. The Crown treats these kinds of assaults very seriously and adheres to internal policies that the Crown has when prosecuting these types of cases. If you are charged with Domestic assault, it is very important to have a strong legal advocate by your side. The nature and extent of the assault, along with your personal criminal history will determine the outcome in the event of a conviction. For a summary conviction or minor offense, you could serve up to six months in jail or even eighteen months if it is an offense that allows the Crown to ask for a lengthier sentence. For a more serious domestic assault which is prosecuted by indictment, you could serve up to five years if convicted of Domestic Assault. For a minor domestic assault, a first-time offender could have either a conditional discharge (no criminal record upon completion of a prescribed period of probation) or an absolute discharge (no criminal record for domestic assault), peace bond or a suspended sentence and probation.
What Are the First Steps Following a Toronto Assault Defense?
If you are arrested for Assault, it is not in your best interests to answer questions. Contact a lawyer as quickly as possible, then follow his or her instructions from that point forward. Your lawyer has dealt with assault charges before and knows exactly what to do in each step of the way, from beginning to end. Remember that even if you want to plea guilty, it is always better to contact a lawyer from Bykov Law and review your case before making the decision to admit your guilt, because more often than not, a person who is charged with a criminal offense will want to resolve his or her charges as soon as possible, but the consequences of not informed plea might have very negative consequences that will impact your future. Thus, even if you want to plead guilty, contact lawyers at Bykov Law who can explain all aspects of your case and most importantly consequences of entering a guilty plea. Remember if you decide to plead guilty, without consulting a lawyer, that decision cannot be undone. While you may want to get your charges out of the way as quickly as possible do not plead guilty without speaking to a skilled criminal defense lawyer from Bykov Law.
What Are Some of the Most Common Defences Associated with Assault Charges?
While every case is different—and the facts and circumstances surrounding your charges are unique—the most common Toronto assault defenses used include:
- Consent—Consent may be expressly given or implied. While no person may consent to be seriously injured or killed, in other cases the Crown must prove that force was applied in absence of consent.
- Self-defense—You reasonably believed that the force being used against you or another person warranted the use of force in return. When determining whether your belief that you or another person were in danger the following will be considered: the nature of the force or threat, your role in the incident, whether a weapon was used, whether there was a history between you and the complainant, as well as the age, gender, size, and physical capabilities of those involved.
- Defense of Property—You reasonably believed another person was entering your property without being invited or was about to damage or destroy your personal property.
- Actual Innocence—You were misidentified by the victim or by a witness, and you have an alibi to prove you were not the person who committed the assault or you were not the one who allegedly committed the assault. In these types of cases, the Crown will have to prove the charge(s) against you beyond a reasonable doubt.
Toronto Drunk Driving Offenses and Penalties
When you are charged with impaired driving in Toronto, you are charged with a criminal offense. While most, first drunk driving charges in Canada lead to summary convictions, additional offenses may be prosecuted as an indictment (with significant minimum penalties). If found guilty of your first Toronto DUI offense, you will receive at least $2,000 fine. If, however, you are charged with the same DUI offense within 10 years of the first, you will be arrested, and if convicted you will spend a minimum of 30 days in jail. Should you have subsequent DUI convictions, you will spend at least 120 days in jail and can face a sentence of 18 months in jail or longer.
Your driver’s license will be suspended for at least a year following your first DUI conviction, two years for a second DUI conviction, and three years for a third DUI conviction. You may also face additional fees and fines and may be restricted from entering the United States. Toronto drunk driving offenses require immediate legal assistance from a highly experienced DUI criminal defense lawyer from Bykov Law.
When you choose lawyers from Bykov Law as your defense lawyers, you are choosing experience, compassion, tenacity, and effectiveness. If you don’t have a lawyer representing you following drinking and driving charges, you could lose your license, your job, and more. There are also minimum drinking and driving penalties due to recent legislation. This means if a Crown can prove the essential elements of the impaired driving offenses, you will receive certain automatic penalties. The criminal record that results from an impaired driving conviction can follow you for a very long time. Lawyers at Bykov Law will fight for your future following drinking and driving charges.
Legal Definitions and Laws Related to Toronto Drunk Driving Offenses
Canada’s blood alcohol law is quite strict. It is a criminal offense in Canada to drive with a Blood Alcohol Concentration “BAC” of 0.08 percent or higher. Canada and Germany have the longest maximum prison sentences for drunk driving offenses. The fine for drinking and driving offenses in Canada is a minimum $2,000. Canada also imposes driving prohibitions of 1-3 years.
In June 2018, Canada passed legislation meant to strengthen and reform the impaired driving laws in the country. Bill C-46 implemented improved screening and detection measures, including:
- Updated roadside testing measures
- New laws regarding charges and penalties for impaired by drug offenses
- Mandatory alcohol screening
- Increased minimum fines for drivers with high BACs
- Due to the changes in the Criminal Code, prior defenses are no longer available
What Are the First 89 Days?
If you’ve been charged with a drinking and driving offense, you must make a quick decision as to whether you will fight the charges and go to trial or accept the facts as alleged and enter a guilty plea. If you accept the facts as alleged, you will be sentenced, but can then participate in a Ministry program that will allow you an earlier return to driving. You only have 90 days following the date of your DUI charges, to make this decision. It’s better to make the decision as quickly as possible—and by 89 days at the latest, rather than 90.
This is why those first 89 days are crucial to your future. If you decide pleading guilty is your best option and are a first-time DUI offender, you will be able to drive again as early as 90 days following your conviction. It is important, however, that you understand you have a right to a trial, forcing the Crown to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. When you plead guilty, you are giving up that right.
What Are the First Steps Following a DUI Arrest?
Finding a knowledgeable and experienced DUI lawyer is a necessary first step following your DUI arrest as timing is crucial in DUI cases. Bykov Law focuses on drinking and driving offenses in Toronto and other jurisdictions across Ontario. The lawyers at Bykov Law are prepared to talk to you 24/7. If you are being arrested for a drinking and driving offense, call us immediately and consult with a professional.
Drunk driving offenses are handled under the strict sections of the Criminal Code. If your charge involves an allegation of operation above 0.08 percent, you will be arrested and asked to provide a suitable sample of your breath into an approved screening device at the police station and if necessary be brought to the court or released from the police station.
The fine you pay for a first-time conviction of impaired driving is usually $2,000, but it can be higher and may include treatment program fees, impound and towing fees, reinstatement fees, and the costs incurred from the installation of an ignition interlock device. If you are a first-time DUI offender in Canada, the interlock device will stay on your car for a minimum of one year. If you are convicted of a drinking and driving offense, this conviction will be visible to your employers or any time a background check is being performed.
If you are traveling from Canada to the U.S. with a DUI conviction, you could potentially be denied entry into the United States. If you are from New York or Michigan and you are convicted in Ontario for DUI, your driver’s license from either of those states will also be suspended. It is also likely that your insurance rates will increase—possibly as much as triple what you paid prior to the DUI—as a result of your DUI. You will now be considered a high-risk driver. A competent, reliable lawyer from Bykov Law can ensure the best outcome.
What Are Some of the Most Common Defenses Related to Toronto Drunk Driving Offenses?
The police do make mistakes, sometimes charging people improperly and violating the rights of those arrested. While your specific defense will depend on the facts and circumstances of your arrest, there are several common issues that might help your case. These issues include:
- There were problems associated with the arrest, or the rest arrest was improperly conducted
- The individual was denied the right to speak to a lawyer in private
- A trial was not conducted within a reasonable period of time
- The evidence against the individual was improperly collected
- The prosecutor is unable to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt
Drug Charges and Penalties in Toronto
A conviction for Toronto Drug Charges under the CDSA (Controlled Drugs and Substances Act) can result in a criminal record with serious penalties and consequences. Suppose you are stopped for a traffic violation then your vehicle is lawfully searched. The police find a controlled substance in your glove box, and you are charged with possession. At this point, you should immediately contact an experienced lawyer who can immediately begin working on your defense—and protecting your future.
The Courts treat drug charges seriously and are often asked by Crown Attorneys (prosecutors) to impose harsh jail terms upon convictions. If convicted of the drug possession offense, you can also face difficulties in obtaining security clearances from your workplace, you could be unable to secure employment, and you could face problems when attempting to cross into the U.S. Possession of recreational marijuana became legal in Canada’s Cannabis Act in October of 2018.
It is now legal to:
- Possess up to 30 grams of cannabis in public
- Share up to 30 grams with other adults
- Buy cannabis products from an Ontario licensed retailer
- Grow up to 4 cannabis plants per household
- Smoke cannabis anywhere smoking tobacco is allowed.
It remains illegal to possess more than 30 grams of dried cannabis (or the equivalent) as well as certain other violations related to cannabis. Violating these laws can result in a maximum of 5 years in jail. Fentanyl, heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamines are one of the most serious types of controlled substances and if you are charged with offenses in relation to these substances it will lead to the lengthiest sentences. Importing is generally regarded as the most serious offense, followed by trafficking and possession for the purpose of trafficking. Trafficking involving a minor or trafficking occurring for the benefit of a criminal organization can result in a mandatory minimum prison sentence. For example, importing drugs like heroin or cocaine can result in a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 1-2 years, depending on the quantity of the drug.
Common Violations that Result in needing Criminal Defense Lawyers
Even though possession of up to 30 grams of dried cannabis is now legal, there are still violations related to cannabis that can result in drug charges, including:
- Possessing more cannabis than legally allowed
- Trafficking (selling) Cannabis
- Growing cannabis in excess of the allowable amount
- Providing or selling cannabis to an underage individual
- Exporting cannabis across Canada’s borders
- Driving after consuming cannabis within the past two hours
Other common drug charges include the following:
- Drug possession of any illegal substance—even if the drugs do not belong to you. If you had knowledge and control of the drug (meaning it was on your person, home, or car), you could be found guilty of possession charges.
- Trafficking drugs can mean not only selling drugs but also giving them to someone to hold for the purpose of returning them to you. Even offering to sell an illegal drug—without the drug in your possession—is enough to be charged with drug trafficking.
Drug possession may be tried as an indictable offense or a summary conviction, depending on the severity of the offense. Whether this is your first offense, the quantity of the drugs and the type of drug will determine your charges and the penalties in the event of a conviction. Schedule, drugs include morphine, mescaline, secobarbital, amphetamines, opium, heroin, and LSD. Schedule two and lower drugs include valium, marijuana (above the legal limit), and other types of drugs.
The potential penalty for minor drug possession offenses include fines up to $500, or combined prison and fines from one year in prison for a second offense up to fines of $2,000. The maximum amount of prison time for trafficking a Schedule I or II drug is 25 years. The maximum amount of prison time for trafficking a Schedule III drug is 10 years, and the maximum prison term for trafficking a Schedule IV drug is 3 years.
Legal Definitions and Applicable Laws Related to Toronto Drug Charges
In Canada, there are summary, super summary, and indictable matters. Summary offenses are less serious, with a maximum penalty of a $5,000 fine and/or six months in jail. Indictable offenses, however, often carry minimum penalties upon conviction. Most drug possession charges in Canada that do not include allegations of trafficking are considered “hybrid” offenses. A hybrid offense allows Crown Attorneys to choose whether to charge as a summary or indictable offense. Sentencing is much harsher for indictable matters, while most simple drug possession cases are charged as summary matters.
What is the Burden of Proof?
To prove drug possession, one of the following must be clearly shown:
- The drug was actually on your person—Actual personal possession
- The drug was kept with another person with your knowledge and consent—Constructive possession
- The drug is not on any one person but is kept in another place with the knowledge and consent of all those involved—Joint possession
Searching people, homes, or vehicles is a complex area of the law and one that your lawyer may be able to challenge regarding your Toronto drug charges. There may also have been violations of your rights. Your lawyer will determine whether police conduct was Charter-compliant. If there were breaches of your Charter rights, the drugs may be excluded, therefore, the case most likely will be dismissed. The Crown Attorney must prove both knowledge and control beyond a reasonable doubt.
What Are Some Common Defences of Toronto Drug Charges?
While your specific defense will depend on the circumstances and facts surrounding your arrest, there are certain defenses that are more common than others, including:
- Charter Violations—The drugs could be excluded under a Charter challenge
- There may not have been sufficient reason to stop your vehicle
- The police testimony is found to be less than credible
- The drugs were not yours and you had no knowledge or control of them
Fraud & White Collar Crimes
Fraud is a wrongful deception intended to result in financial or personal gain for a perpetrator. Often referred to as ‘white collar crime’, fraud charges are some of the most burdensome prosecutions to defend. The Criminal Code of Canada states that a person found guilty of fraud over $5000 may serve up to 14 years in prison. Due to the high amount of documents involved in many of these crimes, cases are very complicated and often hard to prove. White-collar crimes are referred to as such because they are usually perpetrated by people working in offices, hence the term ‘white collar.’ Because of the breach of trust involved, penalties can be severe. When fraud charges are brought against you, the first thing you should do is hire an expert Toronto criminal lawyer. Notwithstanding the magnitude and circumstances of fraud you have allegedly committed, our lawyers at Bykov Law have the necessary experience to defend you successfully.
Anyone under the age of 18 is automatically charged under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, although in certain situations an individual may be treated as an adult. Youth under the age of 18 are treated very differently by the law. Our lawyers are closely familiar with the complexities of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, including its application to bail hearings for young persons. Our Toronto young offender lawyers at Bykov Law understand the Youth Criminal Justice Act and will take the time to understand your child to help resolve a problem that arose. You can trust our sensible approach to help guide your child through this challenging time, as we will make every effort to answer any questions you may have about the charge and defense strategy.
How to Choose the Best Criminal Defense Lawyers
When looking for the best criminal defense lawyer in Toronto, ON, you need to ask yourself the following questions:
- Is the lawyer responsive?
- Does the lawyer have experience handling my specific case? (eg, young offenders)
- Does the lawyer have experience dealing with local courts in Toronto?
- Does the lawyer have referrals and reviews you can check out?
- What are their fees and payment models?
How the Toronto, ON Criminal Defense Lawyers at Bykov Law Can Help
Bykov Law boasts some of Toronto’s best criminal defense lawyers. We treat every individual case with the urgency and attention it deserves, preparing our clients for the best possible outcome. Under Canadian law, you are innocent until proven guilty. So if you or your loved one has been charged with a criminal offense, contact us today to discuss your options.