Navigating the Canadian criminal justice system can be incredibly frightening and intimidating if you are facing charges. It can feel like no one is looking out for you or concerned about your rights.
However, you have rights, including the right to defend and protect yourself. And your background can play a tremendous role in your case, legal options and possible outcomes.
Why background matters
While it may not feel like it all the time, your case is unique. You are not a statistic or some anonymous defendant. And you can make this clear by ensuring the courts and law enforcement agencies understand who you are, which is where your personal background can come in.
When it comes to filing charges, negotiating pleas and handing out sentences, details of your life could make a difference. Some elements can complicate things or adversely affect your case, such as:
- A criminal record
- Evidence of substance abuse
- Lacking ties to your community
- Whether alleged acts harmed vulnerable parties
- Your position of authority
- A history of aggressive, hateful or violent behaviours
- A connection to hate groups
These details, many of which are aggravating factors, can often be used against you to seek increased penalties or stricter rules.
On the other hand, other personal details can positively affect your case. For instance, it can be essential to disclose details like:
- A solid academic or employment history
- Absence of previous offences or convictions
- Whether you are in treatment or counselling
- Diagnoses of mental or physical conditions
- Rehabilitation efforts you have already made
- Strong family ties
- Whether you have been the victim of abuse or coercion
These details reflect who you are as a person and can mitigate exposure to harsh penalties or aggressive charges.
Making your case
Criminal allegations or professional misconduct can turn your world upside down. They will affect every person uniquely, and you deserve to share your side of the story and your background; your freedom, future and livelihood could be on the line.
Showing who you are, rather than just what you are accused of doing, can be crucial when you are defending against harmful allegations.