What is Disclosure?
Under sections 7 and 11(d) the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, an accused person in Canada holds the right to make full answer and defence. This means that an accused person must be able to fully assess and understand the case being marshalled against them.
The process by which an accused person is informed of the evidence being used against them is called disclosure.
When will I receive Disclosure?
Ideally, the accused will receive a package disclosing the evidence the Crown intends to use to convict them at the accused’s first appearance in court. However, disclosure can take time to compile and delays often occur. Sometimes, disclosure may be delivered in separate portions at different times, as the Crown Attorney’s office may acquire relevant evidence at a later date, or they may be persuaded to disclose evidence they are withholding by a persistent criminal defence lawyer.
What kind of evidence will be included in my disclosure package?
The type of evidence found within a disclosure package may include any of the following:
Copies of search warrants
Audio recordings of emergency calls
Text message logs
Any other evidence the Crown believes to be relevant to the case (subject to the restrictions mentioned below)
There are new efforts being made to handle disclosure via an online database that Criminal defence lawyers and Crown Attorney’s have access to, but this practice is in its infancy. For the time being, the vast majority of Crown Attorney’s offices distribute disclosure in physical form or on CD-ROM.
It is important to remember that an accused’s right to disclosure is not without restriction. The Crown does not have to disclose material covered by privilege (for example, a Crown Attorney’s case notes), material that is completely irrelevant to the case, or material that is not in the Crown’s possession.
A major source of evidence that is often excluded from initial disclosure is third party records. Third party records are evidence that is not in the possession of either the accused or the Crown Attorney’s office, but is instead held by an outside party. In order to obtain these records, the defence will have to apply for a production order from the Court. Depending on the type of offence you have been charged with, the process of obtaining production of a third party record can range from routine to incredibly difficult.
What will DUVADIE Law do with my disclosure?
Once DUVADIE Law has obtained your disclosure, we will analyze the strength of the Crown’s case. We will consider what arguments should be made at trial, what defences may apply, and which method of resolution may be best. DUVADIE Law will also consider whether there are any omissions found within the package, and will request that any missing evidence be delivered by the Crown. DUVADIE Law will also consider whether any third-party records applications will be necessary.
What is Charge Screening?
Your disclosure package will typically include a charge screening form that has been completed by the Crown counsel who is initially in charge of the file. The charge screening form sets out the following important information: the charges the Crown is pursuing, the Crown’s election if the charges are a hybrid offence, and the Crown’s position on sentence if a guilty plea is entered, and their position if the matter proceeds to trial.
For hybrid offences, the Crown will elect to proceed by indictment (more serious) or by way of summary conviction (penalties less severe). The Crown’s decision in this regard will determine what possible consequences you may be facing if convicted. The Crown’s position on sentence if a guilty plea is entered sets the starting point for any plea negotiations that may occur.
If you have been charged with a criminal offence, it is imperative that you contact us at your earliest possible opportunity, so that we may begin to work to clear your name as quickly as possible.
If you have been charged with an offence, please contact DUVADIE Law at (613) 422-1155 or Toll-Free 1 (855) 422-1155 so that we can begin working on your behalf.
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