Accounting for Law

The importance of the defence, no matter the crime

While lawyers are challenged about the people they represent “all the time,” Toronto criminal lawyer Tyler Smith tells the Durham Region News that he’s proud to work in the Canadian justice system because it's designed to mete out sanctions to the convicted and to observe and protect the rights of the accused.

“We have Charter rights, and those apply to everyone,” he says. “In Canada, this is the law that applies to everyone.”

Smith, a partner with Hicks Adams LLP, says people accused of particularly egregious offences come into the system at somewhat of a disadvantage. 

The public can have a general desire for swift and severe justice before all the facts in a case emerge, he says.

“These people start with everything stacked against them. It’s human nature when we hear allegations to jump to a conclusion — this person is guilty,” Smith says. 

“So these people are the ones in the most need of representation.”

In some cases, defendants rely on their lawyers to disprove allegations against them by challenging evidence at trial, he explains. In others, the goal is not to fight for an acquittal, but to ensure the fairness of the process, Smith says.

And when that involves working with the Crown for a fair sentence in exchange for a guilty plea, the result can be a timely resolution without the high cost of a trial, which secures a conviction without putting victims through the rigours of testifying, Smith says. 

“We’re not out there trying to get bad guys off charges or to put criminals back on the street,” he says. 

“We want to ensure those who are not in a position to defend themselves get a fair trial.”

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