You have been charged with a criminal offence and already you are panicking. Your life will be forever changed, people will think you are a criminal, you will not be able to find a job, or you might end up getting fired from a job. STOP these thoughts and read below.
Step 1 Put on your best behaviour and look your best because you are being Audio and Video Recorded at the Police Station – Booking Room.
You have been arrested and you are being booked by the officers, at the front desk who will ask you information about yourself and of course about the offence you have committed. For the latter, as good ol’ Shakespeare would say: “Mum’s the word” or in lay terms: “Please stay silent so you do not incriminate yourself!”
You should have been read your rights. The most important is The Right to Counsel. If you do not have a lawyer, (we understand not everyone has their favourite lawyers on speed dial), you still get free advice, and you MUST take advantage of it. After all it is FREE! This free advice, as the police will explain, will be offered by a Duty Counsel, Legal Aid Lawyer. One will always be available regardless of what time you have been arrested. Take advantage of that right and speak to one so that you have a general idea of what to expect and most importantly of what not to say because as you should know: everything you say may be used against you in court.
Step 2 Your release from the Police Station.
This one depends as you may be released on either an Undertaking or must attend your Show /Cause Hearing.
- Undertaking: Usually the police will release you after a couple of hours on the same date you committed the offence. You promise to attend your first appearance, abide by some conditions and get your fingerprints and photo done, if you haven’t at the station already. You get out of the station finally and you are ready to seize the day ahead.
- Show/ Cause Hearing otherwise known as Bail Hearing: You may have to spend a night in jail and find some peace to reflect on how you ended up to this point. The next day, you will be taken to court where you will be told that you will be released under certain conditions. Your release will depend on whether the Crown will ask that you be supervised by a surety under strict terms, or general terms but still need supervision. You may have a lawyer already or Duty Counsel at the court will act for you.
Bail hearings are important because depending on the gravity of your matter, and the conditions asked by the Crown Attorney, you may risk spending another night in jail; this must be avoided at all costs!
At Brace Law, we always try to negotiate the conditions of the release with the Crown Attorney so that our client’s life is not harshly affected by the release. You must be released right away and there should be no reason for you to spend another day in custody.
Step 3 First Appearance and Lawyer Shopping
You have been released and you are told that you must appear in court. At this point, the police will be gathering all the evidence against you which include but are not limited to police notes/investigation notes, videos/audios, statement from witnesses, photos, text messages, etc. All this compiled is called Disclosure.
Partial disclosure is provided by the Crown Attorney on the first appearance. You cannot expect to have full disclosure right away. Some choose to retain a lawyer prior to first appearance, others choose to retain a lawyer after the first appearance. The choice is yours but: if you do not want to miss school or work, your lawyer will appear on your behalf under a designation.
At Brace Law, we make sure that our clients’ lives are not drastically altered when they are facing a criminal charge. We will appear at every court appearance and will try to minimize our clients’ attendance in the courts.
You must retain a lawyer either before the First Appearance or right after. Depending on the gravity of the charge, at Brace Law, we take necessary steps to inform our clients of the best outcome.
So, if you or anyone you love has been charged, Stop Lawyer Shopping and Call Brace Law today so we can get started on your case right away.
PS: The roadmap continues as there are other steps that follow, but that will be disclosed once Brace Law has been retained to represent you in court.