The phrase “My Clients Plead Not Guilty” was coined well before lawyers had websites. It is more than a slogan. It is default advice rooted in the fundamental principle that in a criminal case the Crown bears the burden of proof at all times – proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
Even if you feel guilty, or think you are guilty of something, you may be legally guilty of nothing at all. Even if you are guilty, can the Crown prove it? These are issues about which you can only be properly advised by a criminal lawyer dedicated completely and exclusively to your interests.
Nobody ‘must’ plead guilty, just like nobody ‘must’ give a statement to police or consent to a search.
Where the accused does choose to plead guilty, the law requires that the plea meet a minimum standard of awareness, as with any waiver of a fundamental legal right. The law requires that a plea of “guilty” be voluntary, unequivocal and informed. A plea that does not meet these standards would be struck by an appeal court.
Graham T. Clark does more than simply ensure that your instructions about how you wish to plead are voluntary, unequivocal and informed. Counsel’s goal is to make sure that instructions are given with complete confidence that only the client’s best interests are being served, and served in accordance with what really matters to the client – there are always options and they can be tailored to the client’s advantage, from agreements to have charges against a c-accused withdrawn, to the return of seized property, to the terms of a probation order and countless other examples.
As many as 95% or more of accused persons plead guilty. Mr. Clark’s clients plead guilty less often than the norm. This is not a claim of superiority; when and whether to plead guilty is something about which reasonable professionals might reasonably disagree. That said, accused persons should know that their lawyer’s preference is to go to trial. Mr. Clark prefers to go to trial. That said, counsel’s preference does not govern. Counsel’s most basic duty is to put clients in a position to make a fully informed decision in their own best interest.
Further, even on a plea of “guilty” there can still be a ‘trial of an issue’ to determine and mitigate the precise facts affecting penalty. And there can also be evidence called to demonstrate prospects for rehabilitation, credit for pre-trial custody or other matters germane to sentencing, examples of all of which can be found among Mr. Clark’s reported cases.
It is no secret that Mr. Clark considers it an honour and privilege to make the jobs of police and the crown attorney as difficult as possible. A reputation for putting the crown and police to the full burden of proof makes a lawyer that much more able to negotiate a better outcome in those cases where the client’s best interests are in fact served by pleading guilty.
Call for a free consultation: 416.531.7321.