The criminal justice system is complex and can be confusing if you are encountering it for the first time. The following is a list of some of the terms and phrases you may encounter, explained briefly in plain English.Undertakings and Recognizances
These are forms of release by either the police or the court upon being charged with a criminal offence and typically require you to comply with certain conditions (eg. a curfew or non-association with certain people).Bail Hearings
These are court hearings to determine if you, having not been released at the police station upon being charged with a criminal offence, may be released prior to the resolution or trial of your case.Sureties
These are responsible persons who “sign bail” and pledge some of their assets for you if you are released following a bail hearing; sureties are typically family members, friends or employers who know you well and offer to supervise you while your case is on-going.Retaining Counsel
This refers to the process of hiring a lawyer or law firm to represent you either by way of an agreed upon fee and payment schedule or a legal aid certificate; once you have retained The Law Firm of Ted Yoannou your case proceeds more quickly through the criminal justice system and our office may be able to attend on your behalf for many of your court appearances.Disclosure
Disclosure is the evidence the Crown Attorney and police have gathered with respect to the case against you and typically includes police officer notes and statements from witnesses; disclosure is required to be provided to you in a timely fashion prior to your trial.Set Dates and Court Appearances
This refers to the appearances you are required to make in court upon being charged; your case may require only a few appearances over a period of weeks prior to its resolution, or several appearances over a number of months or years may be required before it is finally concluded, all depending on a variety of factors; if it is inconvenient for you to appear in court for each of your set dates The Law Firm of Ted Yoannou may appear on your behalf either as your agent or pursuant to a “designation of counsel”.Crown Pre-trial and Judicial Pre-trial Meetings
These are meetings conducted between your lawyer and the Crown Attorney, or with a Judge and the Crown Attorney; at these meetings a number of items are discussed, including whether disclosure is complete, any resolution of the case is possible without going to trial either by way of a withdrawal of the charges or a plea bargain, and the issues at trial including time estimates and the number of required witnesses.Plea Bargaining
This refers to the negotiations between the Crown Attorney and your lawyer to resolve your case without going to trial; this requires a mutual agreement and includes options such as a withdrawal of charges or a guilty plea to some of the charges or to less serious charges; a plea bargain may also include an agreement as the sentence.Peace Bonds
These are promises to the court that usually involve conditions that you stay away from certain people or places for a certain period of time, or keep the peace and be of good behaviour towards certain people; peace bonds are often the result of negotiations between your lawyer and the Crown Attorney and a condition of having your charges withdrawn.Trial
This refers to the court hearing to determine whether you will be found guilty or not guilty; the Crown Attorney presents its evidence through its witnesses and you may present your evidence through you and your witnesses; in order for you to be found guilty the Judge (or jury) must have determined you were guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.Sentences
Refers to your punishment if you are found guilty and include absolute discharges and conditional discharges with probation (both of which do not result in convictions), suspended sentences with probation, fines, and time in jail. If a probation order is part of your sentence, you may be required to follow a number of conditions, such as attend for counseling or perform community service work.
The above are just some of the terms and phrases you may encounter in the criminal justice system. At The Law Firm of Ted Yoannou we ensure you are familiar and comfortable with the proceedings and not intimidated or confused by the court process.