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CRIMINaL Defence

Our Areas Of Expertise

Assault & Violence Charges

We have extensive experience successfully defending all types of assault charges. There are several defences available in assault cases, including self-defence. We often persuade the prosecution to withdraw assault cases without the need for a trial; however, if a trial is necessary, we come prepared, ready to rigorously cross-examine the prosecution’s witnesses and present your side with the judge or jury.

Firearms Charges

Possession of a restricted firearm, possession of a prohibited firearm, trafficking firearms, and discharged firearm are the most frequently laid gun charges. Possession cases can seem strong at the beginning but frequently unravel as the case proceeds. We frequently defend firearms cases,  and assert several defences. First, we bring a Charter application, alleging that the search was illegal. Second, we assert that the Crown cannot prove possession because it cannot establish beyond a reasonable doubt that our client had knowledge and control of the firearm(s).

Drug Charges

The most common drug charges are trafficking, possession for the purpose of trafficking, and importing. To be convicted of possession  the Crown must prove that you had knowledge of and control of the drugs. We have extensive experience with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We bring Charter applications in many of our drug cases, arguing that the search – even with a search warrant – was illegal. We have won many cases, both with and without search warrants,even when narcotics were found in our clients’ homes, cars, or pockets.  Drug cases can seem hopeless at the beginning and it is extremely important to speak to an experience lawyer about your case and the defences available to you.

Murder, Attempted Murder and Manslaughter.

‘Homicide’ is a blanket term for murder and manslaughter. In a murder case, the Crown must prove that the accused caused the death of the deceased and either intended to kill them, or intended to cause bodily harm that the accused knew was likely to cause death. For attempted murder, the Crown must prove actual intent to kill. For manslaughter, the Crown must prove that the accused committed an unlawful act (such as assault or dangerous driving), and the underlying unlawful act must be objectively dangerous (that is, likely to injure another person).

Property Offences & Fraud

The most common property offences include break and enter, theft and mischief. In many but not all property offence cases, the main issue is identity – whether the Crown can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused is the person who committed the crime. In other cases, the Crown may not be able to prove that a crime even occurred. In fraud cases, where identity is proven, the verdict often turns on what the accused knew when they took the actions they did. We have seen and successfully defended all types of property crime and fraud cases

Young Persons (Under 18)

Anyone under the age of 18 charged with a crime is governed by the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA). The YCJA is a very different regime than the Criminal Code of Canada. The focus is often on rehabilitation rather than punishment. We have extensive experience representing young people and are well versed in the YCJA. We often have charges dropped for our clients without the necessity of a trial. It is important to understand the rights that are extended to people who are under 18.

Bail Hearings

We have conducted hundreds of bail hearings.  We have run hearings all types of charges, ranging from murder to assault to fraud to drugs and firearms charges. The bail hearing is one of the most important stages of the criminal law process.  Everyone charged with a crime is presumed innocent; however, some people will wait in jail for their trial – a wait that could last more than two years. Winning the bail hearing is not only important for your freedom while you await trial; it also sets the stage for the entire legal process.

We take great care in thoroughly preparing our clients’ bail hearings, providing advice, and preparing sureties (the people who bail out the client) to testify, including a thorough explanation of the types of questions prosecutors ask and strategies they employ.

We fight hard to secure your freedom.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I Need a Criminal Lawyer?

If you have been charged with a criminal offence, you need an experienced criminal lawyer. The justice system can be daunting and scary. The prosecution’s case against you may appear strong, especially at the beginning. However, a skilled and experienced criminal lawyer can often dismantle the prosecution’s case. For example, key pieces of evidence might be ruled inadmissible, and effective cross-examination might expose that a witness is lying or unreliable.

Representing yourself is strongly discouraged.

You should have representation at every stage of the process, from the beginning to the end of your case, including your arrest, your bail hearing, negotiations with the prosecutor and your trial. A skilled lawyer will fight for you at every stage of the proceedings. It is important to understand what can, cannot and should not be done at each stage of the process. For that, you need an experienced defence lawyer.

Should I Speak to the Police?

No.

If you have been charged with a crime, you will naturally want to tell your side of the story. We get it. When you are accused of something, you want to set the record straight.

Don’t do it.

Let us say that again: Do. Not. Speak. To. Police.

You will have your chance to tell your side later.  First, you will tell your lawyer.  Your lawyer, knowing the evidence against you, will then advise you whether you should testify at your trial, and explain the pros and cons of doing so.

You should not speak to the police because: (1) Telling your side will not result in the charges being dropped. You will not convince the police that you are innocent. There is nothing to gain. (2) The police are not on your side. They are not trying to help you, even if it seems that way. (3) You do not know what the police know. They are allowed to lie to you. You might make statements against your interest to explain things they said to you that are not even true.

The police have many tactics to get you to speak, and they can be very good at it. It is very important to get advice about the tactics you can expect, before the police question you . A lawyer simply telling you to not give a statement is insufficient. You need comprehensive advice.  For more information on speaking to the police, see our blog post.

The police breached my rights - what now?

If the police breached your rights, you will want to seek a “remedy” in court. The most frequent remedy is the exclusion of evidence. For example, if the police illegally searched your home and found drugs, you will seek to exclude the drugs from evidence. With no drugs in evidence, there can be no conviction for possessing them.

It is important to know that not every breach of your Charter rights will result in the exclusion of evidence. Once you establish that the police breached your rights, the judge then has to consider whether he or she will exclude the evidence or admit it into evidence, despite the breach. In this assessment (under s. 24(2) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms), the court will weigh three factors: the seriousness of police conduct, the impact of that breach on you, and society’s interest in seeing cases decided based on all of the evidence.

We have extensive experience with Charter litigation, including cases with search warrants.

I admitted I was guilty to the police - is there anything I can do?

If you have made a confession to the police (or any other statements that are harmful to your defence), there may be a solution.  You may be able to get the statement excluded from evidence. There are two ways to do this. First, the police may have breached your Charter rights in order to obtain the statement. If they did, this can result in your statement not going into evidence. 

Second, the prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that any statement to police is voluntary. If the statement was the result of a threat or promise, it may be ruled involuntary. For example, if the police said they would go easy on you if you talk to them, or that it will help you get bail, these would be inducements. If the police told you that if you don’t speak to them, they will charge a friend or family member, that would be a threat. 

We have successfully argued for the exclusion of many harmful statements made by our clients. However, this is a good time to remind you that this result is not guaranteed and therefore, just as we mentioned above, you should never speak to the police.

Darren F, 2020

Mr. Rolfe impressed me from the first moment he represented my son. He was extremely knowledgeable, thorough, and professional. The matter went all the way to a trial and it was scary, stressful time. Our family was so nervous. We always felt well protected, and represented by Mr. Rolfe (Erec). We did not feel that way with the first lawyer. His skills in the courtroom were something else. He’s a pro. Highly recommended.

 

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