- Once disclosure has been provided, counsel will need to discuss your case with the Crown. In complex cases the discussion will require the presence of a judge. These pre-trial discussions are called, “Crown Pre-trials” and “Judicial Pre-trials”. Early consultation between prosecution and defence counsel can play an important role in ensuring that the parties determine what issues can be agreed upon and which issues must be adjudicated at trial.
- A Crown pre-trial is a necessary step in the legal process, where your lawyer will have an informal discussion with the Crown about your case. This meeting is also referred to as a “Crown Resolution Meeting”.
- If you have been charged, it is recommended that you have a lawyer conduct pre-trials to ensure your defence is not compromised.
- After meeting with the Crown, counsel will be able to advise you on whether it is better to make plea bargain or proceed to trial. At the pre-trial the issues in the case will be narrowed and the need for a judicial pretrial hearing or preliminary inquiry will be assessed.
- The Crown Attorney and defence will discuss whether or not the Crown intends to proceed on the charges as laid. In the event they wish to continue the prosecution, the Crown and defence may discuss whether the accused person will be pleading “guilty” or “not guilty”.
- If the case will be heading to trial, the Crown and defence lawyer may discuss how many witnesses are required for trial and estimate the length of trial time required.
- After a pre-trial, counsel should have enough information to set a trial date.
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Some typical pre-trial discussion topics include:
* What the Crown position is upon a guilty plea
* Negotiations on a guilty plea
* Whether the bail conditions can be changed
* How long a trial will take
* Whether there are any outstanding items in disclosure
* What witnesses are required for trial
* Legal issues
* Potential constitutional arguments
- At the crown pre-trial, counsel will be able to determine if the case should be resolved by way of plea bargain.
- A plea negotiation is when the accused agrees to plead “guilty, in return for reduction of the severity of the charges, dismissal of some of the charges, the prosecutor’s willingness to recommend a particular sentence, or some other benefit to the defendant.
- Sometimes one element of the bargain is that the defendant reveal information such as location of stolen goods, names of others participating in the crime, or admission of other crimes. If a plea bargain is reached, then the parties address the court with their respective positions as to sentence, or in some cases make a joint recommendation to the Court for the judge’s consideration.
- In most cases, where the defence and the prosecution agree on the result, the judge will accede to it. However, in all cases an individual who pleads guilty is warned that the issue of sentence is one that is ultimately to be decided by the judge.
- In complex cases either the Crown or defence may request the presence of a judge at the pre-trial discussion. A judicial pre-trial is very similar to a Crown pre-trial. The main difference is that in a judicial pre-trial the judge acts as a mediator between the Crown and defence.
- The judge may give his/her opinion on the merits of the case in an attempt to persuade one side toward a fair compromise. The judge will encourage parties to reach an agreement on non-contentious issues so that the trial length can be shortened. Similar to the Crown pre-trial the meeting is a short but necessary procedure for trials expected to take more than a few hours. The accused need not be present during these discussions.
- Once the pre-trial meetings have concluded the accused will have to decide whether to proceed to trial or resolve the charge by way of guilty plea, assuming that Crown counsel wishes to continue the prosecution.
- It is extremely important that an individual charged with a criminal offence is represented by counsel at both the crown pretrial and the judicial pretrial.
- Only a skilled defence lawyer is capable of engaging in these type of negotiations since they can involve complex evidentiary issues.
- Only a competent criminal lawyer will know before the discussions commence, the strength of the case against their client and whether or not their client has a viable defence.
- Contact Kostman and Pyzer, Barrister today for your free consultation!