As a firm that deals with numerous individuals charged with “D.U.I” cases (Impaired Driving; Driving with Excess Blood Alcohol; Care and Control; and, Refuse/Failure to Provide Breath Sample), we often encounter those who simply want to “plead guilty” at their first court appearance. We understand that being charged with a criminal offence can cause a great deal of stress and anxiety. However, it’s important to take a step back and look at the bigger picture before you decide to plead guilty on your first appearance. Through our experience defending D.U.I. cases (Impaired Driving; Driving with Excess Blood Alcohol; Care and Control; and, Refuse/Failure to Provide Breath Sample), we advise potential clients that it’s NEVER wise to plead guilty on your first appearance. Here are some reasons why:
1. You don't know how strong the case against you is.
- The importance of your first appearance is to obtain your “disclosure”
The disclosure will describe the case against you.
What does the disclosure contain?
“Disclosure” is a copy of the evidence that the police have collected to prosecute an accused person. It usually contains copies of police officer notes, witness statements, DVDs, CDs, photographs, and any other relevant items. Disclosure is usually provided to the accused on his or her first appearance date.
2. Your ticket to victory may be found in your "disclosure"
If you plead guilty without having an experienced D.U.I. (Impaired Driving; Driving with Excess Blood Alcohol; Care and Control; and Refuse/Failure to Provide Breath Sample) lawyer review your disclosure, you may be pleading guilty to a case that the Crown is unable to prove. It’s like throwing a lottery ticket in the garbage before the draw!
Experienced D.U.I. (Impaired Driving; Driving with Excess Blood Alcohol; Care and Control; and Refuse/Failure to Provide Breath Sample) lawyers will be able to analyze your disclosure, and advise you as to the existence of any potential defences.
Without the disclosure, there is VERY little a lawyer can tell you. It’s similar to your car breaking down, and you calling your mechanic from the side of the road to ask, “What’s wrong with my car?” Your mechanic needs to see the car! Similarly, we need to see the disclosure! If your mechanic told you, without seeing the car, that your car needs a new engine, you should probably start looking for a new mechanic.
3. There is no rush!
- We have to repeatedly tell clients to be patient!
In order for an experienced DUI lawyer to carefully analyze and review a disclosure package, it takes time.
- After you receive your disclosure at your first appearance, your case will be “adjourned” for anywhere between 2-4 weeks to allow you an opportunity to meet with a lawyer.
Those charged with a D.U.I. (Impaired Driving; Driving with Excess Blood Alcohol; Care and Control; and, Refuse/Failure to Provide Breath Sample) should make an informed decision. Pleading guilty on the first appearance is NEVER advisable. Rather, on your first appearance, obtain your disclosure. The court is obliged to honour your request for a 2 – 4 week adjournment to consult with a lawyer. Use this time to your advantage and speak to an experienced D.U.I lawyer. Remember, the legal process is by no means fast, so be patient. We know it’s difficult, but try and be logical and put your emotions aside. We have encountered many individuals who attend court on their first appearance and plead guilty, and shortly thereafter, they regret their initial rash decision.