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Criminal law and procedure is a complex subject.Â What follows is not intended as a substitute for professional legal advice.Â The Court cannot give legal advice.
Persons, whether adults (aged 18+) or youths (aged 12-18), charged with criminal offences under the Criminal Code of Canada or other federal statutes such as the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act should understand that they are in jeopardy of very serious consequences and are strongly advised to consider taking advantage of their constitutional right to retain and instruct legal counsel .
The Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador maintains a list of lawyers qualified to practice law in the Province.Â The Newfoundland and Labrador Legal Aid Commission can provide legal counsel, funded in whole or in part by the province, for those applicants who meet their criteria.Â Youths charged with criminal offences have an absolute right to provincially funded counsel.
There are also many federal and provincial statutes which create regulatory, or quasi-criminal offences, for example the Wildlife Act and the Fisheries Act . Persons charged with such offences are also in jeopardy of serious consequences. Legal advice or representation is recommended.
Proceedings for adults charged with criminal offences are subject to special rules over and above those contained in the Criminal Code of Canada or the common law (a body of legal precedents created over the centuries).Â Between a person being arrested or charged and the conclusion of the case there are a number of procedures and issues that could arise, such as, bail, disclosure, election as to mode of trial, preliminary inquiry, plea, Charter issues, evidentiary rulings, questions of fitness to stand trial or mental disorder affecting criminal responsibility, and, if in the end, guilt is established beyond a reasonable doubt, sentence.Â While in most cases a person is entitled to defend him or herself without legal representation, few untrained persons are capable of doing a good job of self-representation. While judges have an obligation to ensure that an accused person receives a fair trial, they must remain impartial and cannot act as the lawyer for an accused.Â
The Court maintains a computerized, province wide, criminal history database and, upon payment of any applicable fees, can issue to bona fide applicants, certified criminal records and/or letters or certificates of conduct.Â
Whether convicted or not, all persons found guilty of offences, will automatically, in the absence of established undue hardship, be subject to monetary penalties in the form of victim fine surcharges.Â
The Court also deals with applications to vary court orders, i.e. undertakings, recognizances, probation or conditional sentence orders, and applications for extensions of time to pay monetary penalties.
Record suspensions (formerly known as pardons) for those found guilty of criminal offences may be sought by making an application to the Parole Board of Canada .