In the criminal process in Canada, there are several levels of proof that may be utilized in different stages of the proceedings. These levels of proof are based on the standard of evidence required to establish a particular fact or issue in the case. If you have been charged with a crime, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the criminal law process. Sean Fagan Criminal Defence Lawyer discusses the levels of proof and the importance of hiring a criminal defence lawyer below.
Legal Standards of Proof
- Reasonable Doubt
This is the highest standard of proof used in criminal cases in Canada. It requires that the prosecution prove the guilt of the accused beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that, after considering all of the evidence presented, the judge or jury must be convinced that it is more likely than not that the accused is guilty.
- Clear and Convincing Evidence
This standard of proof is used in some civil cases, such as civil commitment proceedings or cases involving the termination of parental rights. It requires the party presenting the evidence to prove the fact or issue by clear and convincing evidence, which is a higher standard than a preponderance of the evidence but lower than beyond a reasonable doubt.
- Preponderance of the Evidence
This standard of proof is used in most civil cases and requires the party presenting the evidence to prove the fact or issue by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not.
- Probable Cause
This standard of proof is used to establish that there is a reasonable basis for believing that a crime has been committed and that the accused person is likely to have committed it. It is a lower standard of proof than reasonable doubt and is typically used to justify the issuance of arrest warrants, search warrants, and other legal proceedings.
- Prima Facie Evidence
This standard of proof is used to establish that there’s sufficient evidence to support a finding in favor of the party presenting the evidence, unless the opposing party can present evidence to the contrary. It is a lower standard of proof than preponderance of the evidence and is often used in preliminary hearings or other proceedings where the full presentation of evidence is not required.
Types of Criminal Cases in Canada
In Canada, criminal cases are generally divided into two categories: summary offenses and indictable offenses.
Summary offenses are less serious crimes that are punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. Examples of summary offenses include minor theft, mischief, and simple assault. These cases are usually heard in provincial court.
Indictable offenses are more serious crimes that are punishable by more than six months in jail and may carry a fine. Examples of indictable offenses include murder, aggravated assault, and drug trafficking. These cases are usually heard in superior court and may involve more complex legal procedures.
There is a third category of offenses known as hybrid offenses, which are crimes that can be prosecuted as either summary offenses or indictable offenses, depending on the circumstances of the case and the severity of the offense. Examples of hybrid offenses include fraud, theft over $5,000, and impaired driving.
Why Hire a Criminal Defence Lawyer
There are several reasons why it’s in your best interest to hire a criminal defense lawyer if you’ve been charged with a crime in Canada:
- Expertise: A criminal defense lawyer is trained and experienced in handling criminal cases and is familiar with the legal procedures and processes involved. They can provide valuable guidance and advice on how to proceed with your case.
- Knowledge of the law: Criminal defense lawyers are knowledgeable about the laws and legal defenses that may be available to you. They can help you understand your rights and options and advise you on the best course of action.
- Representation in court: A criminal defense lawyer will represent you in court and advocate on your behalf. They will present your case in the most favorable light possible and work to secure the best possible outcome for you.
- Negotiation skills: A criminal defense lawyer is skilled in negotiation and may be able to negotiate a plea bargain or other favorable resolution to your case.
- Emotional support: A criminal defense lawyer can provide emotional support and guidance during a stressful and difficult time. They can help you understand the legal process and alleviate some of the uncertainty and anxiety you may be experiencing.
Overall, hiring a criminal defense lawyer can give you the best chance of securing a favorable outcome in your case and protecting your rights and interests.