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Toronto Murder Criminal Defence Lawyer

Defending Against Murder or Manslaughter Charges in Ontario

If you are facing charges for murder or manslaughter, you need the best defence possible. A conviction for these offences will be completely life-altering. If you are under investigation or believe that you may be charged in connection with a death, do not hesitate to find an experienced defence lawyer.

I have more than 30 years of experience defending clients in high-stakes murder and manslaughter cases. My approach in these matters is proactive and thorough. I fully investigate the events, with the help of experts in forensics, ballistics and other fields. My practice is built on defending against serious charges, and there are none more serious than murder or manslaughter.

I am ready to meet with you and begin building your defence. Arrange a free initial consultation with me, a skilled Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton and Newmarket murder defence lawyer, by calling (416) 651-2299 or toll free 888-399-3164 or e-mail.

Strong Defence Against All Murder and Manslaughter Charges in Ontario

Your best defence is my experience.

I also have a thorough understanding of the law surrounding confessions and identification, two areas of evidence that often prove to be critical in murder or manslaughter cases.

Murder cases must be tried by a jury. I have the necessary experience, advocacy skills and confidence to convincingly argue your case to the jury.

My experience allows me to represent clients facing any type of homicide charge in or around Toronto, including:

  • First-degree murder: murder with planning and deliberation, murder for hire, murder of a police officer, murder committed during another offence, such as robbery
  • Second-degree murder
  • Attempted murder
  • Manslaughter
  • Criminal negligence causing death

Possible Penalties for Conviction

First-degree murder is punishable by life in prison with no eligibility for parole for 25 years. Second-degree murder is punishable by life in prison without eligibility for parole for 10 to 25 years. Manslaughter and attempted murder are punishable by a maximum of life in prison.

You should know that if the sentence is life in prison, even if you are eventually granted parole, you will be on parole for the rest of your life. If you breach a condition of parole at any point during your life, your parole can be revoked and you will go back to prison.

I will do everything possible to help you avoid the most serious consequences of conviction. You can rely on me to passionately and skilfully defend your rights and freedom.

DNA and Other Forensic Evidence

Forensic evidence, such as DNA evidence, is just one type of evidence that the Crown can try to introduce against a person accused of a crime. The defence can challenge the admissibility of forensic evidence on the basis of relevance, prejudice or that there is a lack of a sufficient scientific foundation to make the evidence reliable and worthy of being admitted, in other words, the forensic evidence is inadmissible because it is based on "junk science".

Over the years, there have been several types of forensic evidence that have been rejected by the courts in the United States and, to a lesser extent, Canada, including voice print identification, comparative bullet lead analysis and several indicators of arson dependent on visual cues.

Likewise, there are various other types of forensic evidence which are possibly unreliable, such as microscopic hair comparison, and "pattern comparison" evidence such as bite marks, tire marks and handwriting.

Even in cases where the forensic evidence is ruled admissible, the defence can still try to weaken the impact of the evidence by arguing, for example, that the results of the forensic testing were the subject of "motivated perception". In other words, the scientist who did the testing interpreted the results so as to support his or her expectations or the expectations of the police or Crown prosecutors. The defence can argue, or call evidence to show, that the forensic examiner should have first tested the evidence blindly without knowing anything about the case in order to avoid a subconscious bias. Studies have shown that even the opinion of fingerprint analysts can be affected by the analysts' preconceived notions about the case. Also, there is always a risk of a false positive. Moreover, if the laboratory that completed the testing, such as the Centre of Forensic Sciences, is known to have made errors on occasion in the past, the defence can argue that the error rates should also be entered in evidence.

In appropriate cases, and where funds permit, the evidence can be re-tested by an independent laboratory for verification.

A good defence lawyer should know the weaknesses of specific scientific techniques or seek out an appropriate defence consulting expert to learn about and present evidence regarding those weaknesses.

Proceeding with a Preliminary Inquiry

A person charged with murder has the right to proceed with a preliminary inquiry in the Ontario Court of Justice and then a trial in the Superior Court of Justice before a court composed of a Judge sitting with a jury. In the past, this level of court was referred to as "High Court".

At a preliminary inquiry, the Crown is required to call some evidence upon which a properly instructed jury, acting reasonably, may return a verdict of guilt. This is an easy test for the Crown to meet in the vast majority of cases. Accordingly, it is relatively rare for someone who proceeds with a preliminary inquiry to be discharged with respect to all of the charges which he or she is facing. The real value in having a preliminary inquiry is not in the hope of being entirely discharged, thereby bringing the entire criminal proceedings to an end, but in being able to better prepare the case for trial. The defence lawyer will have an opportunity to cross-examine and test the evidence of the primary Crown witnesses. An experienced and skilled defence lawyer can discover the strengths and weaknesses of the Crown witnesses and commence building an effective defence strategy. A preliminary inquiry is especially valuable for the defence in cases involving young, infirm, unreliable or unsavory Crown witnesses.

Defending Those Charged With Crimes Committed While Suffering From a Mental Disorder

The Criminal Code of Canada provides that no person is criminally responsible for an act committed or an omission made while suffering from a mental disorder that rendered the person incapable of appreciating the nature and quality of the act or omission or of knowing that it is wrong. The question of whether the person knew that the act or omission was wrong involves a consideration of whether, in the circumstances, the person knew that the act or omission was "morally wrong" according to the moral standards of society.

I have extensive experience in pursuing Not Criminally Responsible (NCR) applications for clients. I have the experience, the research skills and the network of experts necessary to make a successful NCR defence on your behalf or on behalf of a loved one who suffers from mental health issues. A successful NCR application may mean the difference between spending as little as a year in a mental health facility or life in prison without eligibility for parole for 10 years or more.

When Are NCR Applications Used?

The NCR defence is only used in the most serious cases, such as murder. This is because a successful NCR application usually results in the accused being detained in a mental health facility for an extended period. If the NCR application is successful, the defendant is found not guilty for reason of mental disorder. A disposition hearing is then completed in order to determine whether the defendant should be detained in custody. Usually the disposition hearing results in an order directing that the defendant be detained in custody in a mental health facility subject to such conditions as the court or a special review board considers appropriate.

The order providing for the defendant to be detained in custody in a mental health facility is subject to review every 12 months or every 36 months if the defendant is designated as a high risk offender. The defendant will be released from custody only if and when the court or the review board determines that it is appropriate and safe for the defendant to be released from custody.

What Makes a Successful NCR Application?

Whether or not an NCR application will be successful depends upon two major factors:

  • First: Whether the defence psychiatrists and psychologists are able to establish that the defendant suffers from a mental disorder. I routinely work with highly respected mental health professionals to investigate my client's mental health history. A pattern of mental health problems makes the NCR defence much stronger.
  • Second: Whether the defendant's mental disorder rendered him or her incapable of appreciating the nature and quality of the act committed or incapable of knowing that the act committed was morally wrong. This requires defence opinion evidence from the highly respected mental health professionals that I routinely consult on behalf of my clients.

NCR defences are very complex, requiring a lawyer who is capable of handling the most serious cases. I am that kind of lawyer. You can rely on me to present the strongest possible case that you are not criminally responsible for the act committed.

Information on Not Criminally Responsible (NCR) Applications is available here.

Representing Clients Through Legal Aid

The individuals charged with these types of offences often do not have the financial ability to secure the legal representation they need. Legal Aid Ontario maintains an Extremely Serious Criminal Matters (ESCM) panel to which I have been admitted. ESCM lawyers must meet strict and demanding experience requirements before they are admitted to the panel. If you or a friend or family member is charged with murder, manslaughter or attempted murder, the case will most likely qualify for Big Case Management, which means that I can negotiate with Legal Aid for a budget that will ensure an effective defence. More information on representing clients through Legal Aid is available here.

Contact a Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton and Newmarket Murder and Manslaughter Charges Law Firm

Do not hesitate to reach out for legal help to fight murder or manslaughter allegations. Set up a free consultation with me by calling 416-651-2299 or toll free 1-888-399-3164 today or via e-mail.

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*Experience is Your Best Defence*