Myth vs. Reality: Criminal Law Edition
Updated: Mar 27, 2021
Have you binge watched C.S.I., Law & Order, or Criminal Minds? Do you find yourself wondering whether the things you see on TV (or Netflix) are really happening, right this second, in your local police station or courthouse? Whether these things could ever happen to someone like you? Well, Angle Law is here to bust some common myths for you!
Myth: If you ask for a lawyer when being asked questions by the police, it means you're guilty – I mean, if you aren’t guilty, why wouldn’t you freely talk to the police?
Reality: Police are professional questioners. You have the right to counsel and you are entitled to exercise that right. Talking to the police is stressful, even if you have done nothing wrong and a lawyer can help support you to ensure that your story can be told properly. Until you are able to speak to a lawyer, we highly recommend that you exercise your right to remain silent!
Myth: Police don’t actually use fancy forensic science like fingerprinting, especially not in a small community like Niagara! That’s just for show in C.S.I., or for big-time cases.
Reality: PSYCH! While much of the forensic science you see on C.S.I. is extremely dramatized, the use of fingerprinting in Canada is alive and well.
If you are charged with certain types of offences, you will be required to provide your fingerprints, even though you haven’t been convicted of anything! If you don’t show up for fingerprinting, you can be charged with additional criminal offences.
And if you think police don’t run those prints, think again! Police can and do run fingerprints against those collected at crime scenes.
Myth: The system cares more about criminals than it does about victims. On TV, aside from talking to police and testifying in court, victims are largely forgotten.
Reality: While victims are not “parties” to criminal proceedings, Canada has enacted laws to give victims a voice in criminal proceedings. In particular, victims and their loved ones can present Victim Impact Statements to the court at sentencing hearings to ensure that the court understands what they have been through.
If you are the victim of a crime in the Niagara Region, there are many resources available to you, including Victim Services Niagara: https://www.victimservicesniagara.on.ca/ and Gillian’s Place: https://www.gilliansplace.com/
A lawyer who specializes in criminal law can help you understand your rights and guide you in navigating the court system. When you exercise your right to counsel, remember that not every lawyer practices criminal law. Like reading stuff like this? Join our email list to be the first to know whenever we hit Publish. JOIN HERE.
Shelby L. Symon, B.A. (Hons.), J.D.