Ottawa Violent Offences
A criminal prosecution for a violent crime is an onerous experience with the looming threat of significant prison time, penalties, and reparations hovering over the accused. If convicted, Ottawa judges are harsh in sentencing. Consequently, anyone accused of a violent crime needs to retain experienced and effective counsel to steer the defence in order to fully protect your rights as the defendant. Call Auger Hollingsworth now to secure a free consultation.
Handling All Aspects of Violent Offences
Defending a prosecution for a violent crime requires that defence lawyers conduct:
- an objective assessment of the charges
- a thorough examination of the police investigation and how it was conducted
- an evaluation of the credibility of potential witnesses and their capacity to testify
- a review of all documentary and physical evidence gathered by the police
- knowledge of the limits of scientific evidence and technology, and
- skills in listening, interviewing, and interrogating
A strategic violent offence defence lawyer will assess the strength of the prosecution’s case in order to devise a plan that might involve pleading to a lesser charge with a negotiated sentence, contesting how evidence was gathered to make it inadmissible, or preparing and conducting a full trial. That preparation includes mock juries, hiring experts, and anticipating prosecution tactics.
Common Defences for Violent Offences
To secure a conviction for violent crimes requires that the prosecution prove all the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Effective defences create doubt in the legitimacy of the evidence proving one or more of those elements, and often encompass counter-narratives to the story told by the prosecution. Defences are determined by the facts of each prosecution. Sometimes a defence might depend on the admissibility of the evidence, determined by the conduct of the police or the rules of evidence. Other defences might involve disputing the testimony of witnesses or the conclusions reached by experts. Specific defences are also available depending on the charges filed by the prosecution against the accused.
The claim of self-defence is determined by Section 34 of the Criminal Code of Canada. The efficacy of a claim of self-defence is complicated and often factually determined. The statute provides that a person is not guilty of an offence if
- they believe on reasonable grounds that force is being used against them or another person or that a threat of force is being made against them or another person;
- the act that constitutes the offence is committed for the purpose of defending or protecting themselves or the other person from that use or threat of force; and
- the act committed is reasonable in the circumstances.
The reasonability of the use of force as self-defence is largely determined by an inquiry into the facts of the case. The relevant circumstances include some of these factors, although the list is not exhaustive:
- the nature of the force or threat;
- the extent to which the use of force was imminent and whether there were other means available to respond to the potential use of force;
- the person’s role in the incident;
- whether any party to the incident used or threatened to use a weapon;
- the size, age, gender and physical capabilities of the parties to the incident;
- the nature, duration and history of any relationship between the parties to the incident, including any prior use or threat of force and the nature of that force or threat;
- any history of interaction or communication between the parties to the incident;
- the nature and proportionality of the person’s response to the use or threat of force; or
- whether the act committed was in response to a use or threat of force that the person knew was lawful.
A claim of self-defence is not available if the antagonist is operating under colour of law, a police officer, or other government official.
Smart, effective Ottawa defence counsel know how to develop a comprehensive claim of self-defence, although its acceptance by the court and jury is very dependent on the facts of the case.
DNA and Other Forensic Evidence
The prosecution might try to introduce DNA evidence to connect the defendant to the violent crime. This includes DNA blood and hair testing, which has been validated as a legitimate scientific technique. However, the admissibility of DNA evidence can still be challenged by competent defence lawyers, especially in how the specimens were gathered and handled, the training of the technicians, and the chain of custody.
Some theories of forensic evidence have not been held to be reliable, such as blood splattering, voice print identification, and comparative bullet lead analysis. These are considered “junk science.” However, other forensic evidence is sometimes admissible: hair comparisons, pattern comparisons for tire marks, handwriting, and bite marks. Effective, knowledgeable defence lawyers know how to challenge the admissibility of these forms of forensic evidence through legal arguments of relevance, prejudice, and lack of scientific foundation.
For defendants facing serious prison sentences of 14 years or more, there is a provision for the defence to request a preliminary inquiry before the Ottawa Court of Justice. At this inquiry, the prosecution presents its evidence that a crime has been committed and that the defendant is indeed the perpetrator. Although dismissal of charges is rarely the result of a preliminary inquiry, the procedure does permit the defence to better understand the scope of the evidence collected and the credibility of witnesses, in order to better prepare for a plea bargain or full trial.
Contact our Ottawa Violent Offence Lawyers Today
Choosing an Ottawa criminal defence lawyer can help preserve your rights and defences to criminal charges. At Auger Hollingsworth, we offer a free consultation session during which you can assess our lawyers and we can assess the strength of the prosecution’s claims. During this free consultation, we will:
- Review the criminal charges or the request for appearance or subpoena for documents, and any police reports and other documents.
- We will listen to your story and map out the areas for investigation, begin to compile a list of witnesses, and compose the various strategies the facts and law offer.
- We will provide you with an estimate of the cost of legal services.
- If we are unable to provide you with a defence, we will refer you to other counsel.
Call (613) 699-8192 today to schedule a free consultation with the knowledgeable Ottawa criminal defence lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth.