Criminal Trial and Appeals Lawyer Edmonton

Rod J.A. Gregory has successfully defended many clients in criminal trials and appeals. He has appeared in the highest appeal courts in Alberta, British Columbia and the NWT.

Criminal Trial

A criminal trial commences when the state (“the Crown) prosecutes an individual, a group of a corporation for a narcotics or criminal offence. The Crown always has the burden of proof to convict the accused with admissible evidence that constitutes evidence that proves the guilt of the accused beyond a reasonable doubt. The accused is never compelled to testify or call evidence but may decide to do so in a criminal trial. From the evidence presented, the Court must render a verdict of not guilty or guilty on all, some, or none of the charges. More specifically, a judge or jury must decide whether the evidence proves beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty or not of none, some, or all of the charges before the Court. The phrase “reasonable doubt” does not require proof to an absolute certainty or beyond any doubt. Reasonable doubt is also not a frivolous doubt. Instead, it requires a significant level of proof far beyond the “balance of probabilities” standard of proof in civil cases.

It is a fundamental principle in criminal law that you are presumed innocent throughout the entire trial unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt at the conclusion of the trial.

Sentencing Hearing

If you are found guilty of the offence you were charged with, a sentence hearing will be held by the judge. The Crown and defence make submissions and often present evidence and submit what ought to be a fit and proper sentence. The Court must consider the circumstances of the case, the background of the offender and sentencing principles of general and specific deterrence and mandatory principles of sentencing found in s.718 of the Criminal Code.

The Right to Appeal

An accused has the right to appeal a conviction or a sentence at the conclusion of a criminal case. There are very specific rules in appeals and an accused cannot appeal simply because they disagree with the decision of the trial judge. The trier of fact must have committed an error of law or misapprehended a substantial piece of evidence in the trial Mr. Gregory can meet with you to discuss the viability of an appeal upon reviewing of the reasons for judgment or sentence and a transcript of the case.

Determining the Appellate Jurisdiction

In order determine the appellate jurisdiction, it must be determined as to which court and by what procedure one must appeal. This depends on whether the offence is indictable or a summary conviction offence. Indictable offences are heard by the Court of Appeal while summary offences are first heard by a superior Court, for example, in Alberta, the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta. For example, if an accused appeals a ruling in a summary conviction impaired driving offence, the appeal would be heard in the Court of Queen’s Bench. If an accused appealed a conviction or sentence for trafficking in cocaine, the appeal would be heard in the Court of Appeal.

Basis of an Appeal

Anyone who is convicted has the right to appeal, but simply disagreeing with a decision made by the court is not grounds for an appeal. An appeal may be brought forward only based on a question of law, a question of fact, or a question of mixed law and fact. In practice, appeals tend to be heard based on allegations of legal errors rather than on factual errors. For example, a decision about the credibility of a witness will rarely be overturned on appeal. If the strength of the evidence presented at trial did not support the verdict, however, the verdict may be appealed. Or, if certain information was struck out in a ruling by the judge but the evidence had already been presented to a jury before the ruling was made, then the verdict may be appealed. The sentence may also be appealed if it is believed that the sentencing is too harsh in relation to actual harm caused. The appeal process is generally designed to provide relief only in those cases where an error of such magnitude has occurred that the appeal court can conclude that a miscarriage of justice occurred in the lower court.

Time Limits of an Appeal

Any appeal must be filed within 30 days of the verdict or sentence with a Notice of Appeal. Only in some limited circumstances can the time for appealing be extended by the appeal court. The success of bringing a late appeal generally requires that it be demonstrated that there was an intention to appeal within the time limit, there is merit to the appeal, and there is an adequate explanation for failing to institute the appeal within the proper time.

Notice of Appeal

A Notice of Appeal must include the exact issue or issues upon which your appeal is based.

Records and Writs

The appellate court will not receive new evidence but a record of the criminal trial (e.g., the court’s decision, a transcript of the evidence and all rulings leading up to the trial). These are called Appeal Books. Mr. Gregory will also file a written factum outlining the legal argument for the error of law committed at the trial level. The Crown then responds. The Crown may also file an appeal if it believes that the trial Court committed an error. The accused would then be the respondent and would file a written factum outlining why there was no error in the trial.

Representation in Appellate Court

It is possible for Mr. Gregory to represent you on your appeal even where another lawyer handled your criminal trial. Appeals require written legal argument and exhaustive legal research. Not all criminal lawyers handle appeals, but Mr. Gregory has extensive experience in criminal law as an appellate lawyer in Edmonton. Mr. Gregory has conducted appeals on Criminal Code and Controlled Drug and Substances Act offences.