Although there are talks of reopening the BC courts soon, there is still uncertainty about when that will happen. If you were charged with domestic violence and are awaiting trial during the Coronavirus pandemic, you might be wondering what that means for your case.
There may be extreme delays in your case
Domestic violence charges can upend your life, and no one wants to have such charges hanging over their head indefinitely. Sadly, you may find that the ongoing pandemic may impede your right to a speedy trial. With major backlogs, you could find that even when the courts reopen, you may still have a long wait before your case goes to trial.
As of now, courts in BC are only handling urgent matters. The courts have defined urgent matters as family and child protection case conferences and bond hearings for accused who are in jail awaiting trial. These hearings are being held via teleconferencing.
You may feel pressured to take a plea deal
Although COVID-19 has brought the justice system nearly to a halt, people have not stopped committing offences. In fact, there has been a sharp increase in domestic violence reports since stay-at-home orders were enforced across Canada.
You may find that to move cases along, prosecutors may be more inclined to offer plea deals. The problem with a plea deal is that you forgo your right to a trial heard by a jury of peers. Also, you should note that to benefit from a plea deal, you must plead guilty to the offence, even if you are innocent. In some instances, a prosecutor may offer a non-custodial sentence in exchange for your plea. Although you will not serve time with a non-custodial sentence, you will still have a criminal record for a violent crime for up to three years before the conviction is discharged. A conviction for domestic violence could do severe damage to your reputation and may inhibit your ability to get a job and lead to travel restrictions, among other consequences. Before you consider any plea deal, consult your criminal defence lawyer.
What can you do while you await trial for domestic violence?
While you wait for a trial date to be set for your domestic violence case, you should keep in constant communication with your criminal defence lawyer and check for updates posted by the Provincial Court of British Columbia.
Do you need a criminal defence lawyer in Vancouver?
If you have not yet hired a criminal defence lawyer, contact us today at the law office of Tom Doust.
With over 20 years of experience as a criminal defence lawyer, Tom Doust has the expertise to handle your domestic violence case. Our law office remains fully operational during the COVID-19 health emergency, and our commitment to providing excellent client service remains a priority. We will continue to monitor the updates from the provincial court and help you to avoid any unnecessary delays in your case. And when the courts reopen, we will be there by your side to mount a vigorous defence.
So, give us a call today to schedule a legal consultation. Let us show you how we can help.