WHAT HAPPENS IF I PLEAD GUILTY OR NOT GUILTY TO MY YOUTH CHARGES?
If you intend on pleading guilty to your charges, you are strongly urged to consult a lawyer before doing so. If you try to plead guilty in Youth Justice Court without a lawyer, the judge will likely suggest the same or a similar recommendation. The judge, furthermore, may question you to ensure that you understand the charges against you and the implications of entering your guilty plea. If the judge has reason to believe your plea is not sufficiently informed, your request to plead may be refused by the court and then the judge may adjourn the matter.
Bernstein Law Group can help you understand your guilty plea and help you prepare for your guilty plea in the courthouse. If the judge accepts your guilty plea, the judge may order a pre-sentence report, which is prepared by a probation officer and will assist the judge in making the appropriate sentence for you. If the pre-sentence report is ordered, the judge will adjourn your matter to a later date at which time the report will be completed so that the judge can have the benefit of it when deciding on the particulars of sentencing.
I HAVE PLEAD GUILTY AND RECEIVED A CUSTODIAL SENTENCE—WHERE DO I GO?
If you have plead guilty and received a custodial sentence, you will be sent to a detention facility designated for young offenders. It is now legislated that no young person who is under the age of 18 can serve any portion of his or her imprisonment in a correctional facility for adults or a penitentiary.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I WANT A TRIAL?
A trial in Youth Justice Court is a formal court proceeding where it is up to the Crown to prove that you have been found guilty of the charge(s) against you beyond a reasonable doubt. In other words, the Crown has the burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of the offence.
You and your lawyer will attend your trial and you may wish to give evidence on your own behalf, but you do not have to. Neither the Crown nor the judge can compel you to give evidence and testify at a criminal trial. You and your lawyer can choose whether it is in your best interests to provide testimony. In this system, you have a right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. This right is protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the court is prohibited from using your silence against you.
Generally speaking, the Crown prosecutor will call its witnesses and begin asking them questions. Your lawyer will have the option to cross-examine any Crown witnesses. After all of the witnesses have given their evidence, including your own witnesses, the judge will make a decision as to whether the Crown has met its obligations.
WHAT IF I AM FOUND NOT GUILTY AT TRIAL?
If the judge finds that you are not guilty of the charges against you, you are acquitted and free to go. As such, the case against you is over.
If your case goes to trial, Bernstein Law Group will strive to have the charges against you completely withdrawn. If you or a loved one has been criminally charged, contact our office at (905)-546-1990 for a free consultation.
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