The initial answer is no. A criminal conviction can have a dramatic impact on your life. If you are convicted of a criminal offence, and end up with a criminal record, you may be facing additional collateral consequences. These consequences can include the following:
- Loss of employment, or loss of employment opportunities;
- Deportation from Canada;
- The inability to travel to the United States or other countries;
- Loss of driver’s licence (if a driving offence); and
- Harm to your personal or professional reputation.
These consequences may be more long lasting and damaging to your personal life than the sentence the court may impose upon you.
What are my Options?
An accused person always has the right to go to trial. At a trial, the Crown would need to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. They would attempt to do this by calling witnesses and admitting other evidence to build their case against you. If the Crown were to be unable to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, you would be acquitted and be free of your criminal charges.
For some charges, and for someone who does not have a criminal record, or has a limited record, you may be offered the chance to complete upfront work to work towards an unconditional withdrawal of your charges, or entering into a peace bond and the withdrawal of your charges. There are many types of upfront work that may be offered but it depends on the nature of your charges and personal circumstances. Some examples are PARS (domestic assault counselling), anger management, substance abuse counselling, community service hours, and parenting classes.
Your last, and final option should be to plead guilty. This should be after a thorough review of your case has been completed, and after all other options short of a guilty plea have been exhausted. A guilty plea should never be taken lightly and should only be entered if you have no other option, and the sentence is in your best interests. A plea can be advantageous for you if the Crown is offering a light sentence in the circumstances of your case, or if the plea is part of a global resolution of a number of outstanding charges. Even then, it should still be done carefully, since the impacts of a guilty plea can affect every aspect of your life.
If you or someone you know has been charged with a criminal offence, please contact the lawyers of Lockyer Zaduk Zeeh to discuss your options.