It is virtually impossible to say whether fighting criminal charges at trial is always better than a plea bargain. The answer depends upon the circumstances of each case.
In Canada, criminal offences fall into two categories - summary conviction offences, which in general, are not truly serious charges, and indictable offences that are for serious crimes. Fighting summary conviction offences could prove far more costly than the fines and reduced sentence you likely could achieve in a plea bargain. On the other hand, an indictable offence can carry with it major prison time and hefty fines. The calculus changes then, and it might be worth it to try and beat the charges at trial, depending upon the strength of your defence. Of course, it might make more sense to enter a plea bargain to obtain a lesser sentence. Everything depends upon the circumstances of your case, and plea bargain or trial is a decision best made with the assistance of a defence lawyer.
If You Have a Strong Case, Fighting Charges at Trial Can Make Sense
You should never take your case to trial simply because it makes you feel better. Whether a defence at trial makes sense depends entirely upon how strong your case is. That is determined by what facts you have in your favour balanced against the Crown’s burden of proof. The Crown must show beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed each of essential elements of the charges facing you. These elements differ from charge to charge, obviously, but the Crown must prove each essential element of any charge facing you in order to obtain a conviction on that charge. Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that a person accused of a crime is innocent until proven guilty. To overcome that presumption is a heavy burden upon the Crown. As a defendant, you are not even required to put on a defence. If the Crown cannot prove the elements of the charge beyond a reasonable doubt, you must be acquitted. To be sure, “reasonable doubt” does not mean that any level of doubt will do. That would require proof to a level that likely is impossible. No matter how strong the evidence, a person who wants to doubt, for whatever reason, can find a basis for having “doubt” about a defendant’s guilt. The Supreme Court of Canada requires that a reasonable doubt be rooted in logic and reason, and cannot be based on sympathy for the defendant, prejudice in favour of the defendant or against the Crown, or any other reason not rooted in reason and common sense. If you believe the facts of your case can rebut the Crown’s ability to prove your crime beyond a reasonable doubt, you should consult with a lawyer to see if you are correct, or just wearing rose-colored glasses.
If You Are Facing Criminal Charges in the Calgary area, Contact the Lawyers of Bourdon Defence
If you are facing criminal charges and are considering fighting those charges at trial, you’ll need an experienced lawyer to help you defend yourself against such charges. The lawyers of Bourdon Defence can assist you. You can reach us at (403) 474-4143 or through our website.