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Mental Health Court – Alternative Measures

What is Mental Health Court?

Mental Health Court, also called Community Treatment Court (CTC), is an alternative presented by our criminal justice system for individuals who have committed crimes because of an underlying mental illness. It operates on the premise that that these individuals would better be served by a system that encourages their rehabilitation, rather than a system that simply punishes criminal acts. Rehabilitation goes to the root of the problem with many offences, and can act as a preventative measure against the reoccurrence of criminal behaviour. Community Treatment Court also addresses individuals who are facing criminal charges stemming from substance abuse issues. An experienced criminal lawyer can talk with you to see if Mental Health Court is appropriate fro your circumstances.

How Can I Access Mental Health Court?

To have a matter heard in Community Treatment Court, there are certain criteria an individual must meet. For Hamilton matters, a Mental Health Court Worker will first assess the individual to ensure that they are an appropriate candidate for their matters to be moved to CTC. The Crown Attorney’s approval is also necessary before the matters can be moved. In addition, the matter must be one which is not a high-risk offence and the situation must be one where the individual suffers from a serious mental health issues. Most importantly, the individual in question must accept being sent to CTC.

mental health courtHow Does Mental Health Court Work?

When an individual is accepted into CTC, they attend court periodically, and the court monitors the individual’s progress in dealing with their mental health issues. When treatment has concluded the charges against the individual may be withdrawn.  Mental Health court has proven to be extremely help for those suffering from Mental Health issues who due to their illness become involved in the court system.

Sources:

http://www.cmhahamilton.ca/programsandservices.htm#MENTAL%20HEALTH%20COURT%20DIVERSION

http://ontario.cmha.ca/mental-health/services-and-support/justice-services/mental-health-diversion-and-court-support/




Criminal Charges. Indictable, Summary & Hybrid Explained

Types of Criminal Charges

When an individual is arrested, they receive a set of criminal charges. Charges mean that the individual has been accused of committing an offence contrary to the Criminal Code, and that they could be facing sanctions such as probation, a fine, or jail time. There are three main types of criminal charges (offences): summary, indictable, and hybrid.

What do Summary, Indictable and Hybrid mean?

Summary offences are offences that carry a maximum of 6 months in prison, or a fine of up to $5000, or both. Generally these offences are less serious than indictable offences. The charging document for summary offences is called an information. Indictable offences can carry punishments that include fines over $5000 or more than 6 months in prison, or both. The charging document for an indictable offence is called an indictment, and when an individual is facing charges related to an indictable offence, they can elect whether to have a trial with or without a jury. Hybrid offences are offences that can either be summary or indictable, depending on what the Crown elects. Most offences in the Criminal Code are hybrid offences, and the offence will be deemed indictable until the Crown makes the election.

The Smordin Law Approach

In Ontario there are two courts that hear criminal matters: the Ontario Provincial Offencese, and the Superior Court of Justice. The Ontario Provincial Offences hears both summary and indictable offences, but the Superior Court of Justice only hears indictable offences.

The lawyers at Smordin Law have years of experience dealing with all types of criminal offences. If you or someone you know are facing criminal charges for any type of offence, contact Smordin Law to discuss your options.

Criminal Code, RSC 1985, c C-46, ss. 469, 787.

Interpretation Act, RCS 1985 c I-21, s. 34(1)(a).

Smordin Law Criminal Lawyers
41 King William St. #200
Hamilton, ON
L8R 1A2
Tel: 1 (905) 525-0005
Toll Free: 1 (844) 525-0005
Fax: 1 (905) 525-5716
www.smordinlaw.com




Guilty Plea? What you need to know.

guilty plea ontario criminal court

Definition

A Guilty plea is common way for charges to be disposed of quickly, generally with a reduction in risk of receiving a maximum penalty in exchange for admitting guilt early on in a proceeding.

  • a guilty plea is when an individual voluntarily admits guilt to the offence they are charged with
    • in admitting guilt, the individual is also admits to all of the facts of the offence
    • in addition, the individual foregoes their right to a trial and proceeds straight to sentencing
  • a court must be satisfied that:
    • the plea is voluntary
    • the plea is an admission of the essential elements of the offence
    • the accused understands that the court is not bound by any agreement the accused and prosecutor make (the court is allowed to rule differently than whatever deal the accused and prosecutor agree on)

Why Plead Guilty?

  • pleading guilty is a choice
  • saves time for the accused – don’t have to wait in jail or out on bail for the case to go to trial
  • saves money for the accused – less time in the court system means smaller lawyer fees
    • but also, this is less financially disruptive, as the accused needs to take less time off work to deal with court-related matters
  • saves time for the court – the court doesn’t have to go through the numerous procedures that must occur before a trial
  • the Crown may look favourably upon an admission of guilt and reduce charges or fine
    • this is because the accused is showing remorse and saving the court’s time and money

When Not to Plead Guilty

  • an individual should not plead guilty if they do not want to plead guilty
  • an individual should not plead guilty if they believe they are not guilty of the allegations
  • an individual should not plead guilty if they dispute some or all of the facts made in the allegations
  • an individual should not plead guilty unless they are acting of their own volition, and have the capacity to understand the positive and negative aspects of such a plea

The Process of a Guilty Plea

  1. The Crown will read in the allegations against the accused. The accused can agree or disagree, but a guilty plea assumes the accused will admit the facts
  2. The accused will be given the opportunity to confirm their criminal record to ensure accuracy of the document
  3. The Crown and the accused’s counsel will each submit their position before the judge. The accused’s counsel can submit mitigating details about the accused, or there can be a joint submission, where the accused’s counsel submits the same information as the Crown.
  • Submissions will include statements regarding appropriate penalties for the accused

The judge will deliver a sentence. This can be done immediately, or on a future date.

Hiring a Private Lawyer for Your Guilty Plea

  • a private lawyer can get to know you and your case better
  • a private lawyer has more time to dedicate to researching important aspects of your case
  • you can’t choose which duty counsel you get, but you can select your lawyer
  • a private lawyer does not have to prioritize clients in the same manner duty counsel does, allowing more more efficiency

Sources:

http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/C-46/section-606.html

http://lawfacts.ca/criminal/guiltypleas

Smordin Law Criminal Lawyers
41 King William St. #200
Hamilton, ON
L8R 1A2
Tel: 1 (905) 525-0005
Toll Free: 1 (844) 525-0005
Fax: 1 (905) 525-5716
www.smordinlaw.com




Bail Hearing, what is the definition?

what is a bail hearing?

What is the definition of a Bail Hearing?

  • a bail hearing is a procedure where a judge decides whether or not to release an individual into the community during the time between their arrest and the final decision regarding their case
  • a bail hearing can take place before a judge or a justice of the peace

When can a bail hearing take place?

  • a bail hearing can happen at several points in an individual’s journey through the justice system, but typically happens either:
    • as soon as possible after arrest, or
    • can be scheduled if the individual is in custody

What happens during a bail hearing?

  • the Crown will announce its position to the court, and will specify the grounds on which it seeks detention
  • the Crown will then call witnesses, and/or read in the police background about the client, and/or read in the synopsis of the allegations as provided by police
  • the defence asks questions
  • the sureties are examined and cross-examined
  • the party that bears the onus makes submissions firms
  • the judge or JP comes to a decision

What are primary, secondary, and tertiary grounds?

  • theres are the grounds on which the Crown argues to keep the individual in custody until his or her trial
    • primary: risk that the individual will flee the jurisdiction or not attend court dates when they need to
    • secondary: significant likelihood of reoffence
    • tertiary: detention in the interest of ensuring the public’s confidence in the administration of justice
      • only to be used in severe circumstances

What is a reverse onus bail hearing?

  • in a regular bail hearing, the Crown has the onus of proving why the individual arrested should be detained, but in a reverse onus bail hearing,the individual must prove whether should be released

Is release guaranteed when an individual has a  bail hearing?

  • no, release can be denied, but only if there is just cause

What is a recognizance?

  • a recognizance is a form used by the courts that sets out the conditions of an individual’s bail, and his or her dates of return
  • can includes such provisions as:
    • keep the peace and be of good behaviour
    • abstaining from drugs and alcohol
    • curfews
    • prohibitions on associating with certain people or being in certain locations

Why is it important to have private counsel?

  • can offer personalized service
  • perhaps know the client from before

Sources:

How to Prepare a Bail Hearing (Lawyers Guide)

http://www.legalinfo.org/criminal-law/bail.html

http://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/glossary/?search=r*




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