Immigration and Refugee Protection Act Charges Stayed
Justice delayed is justice denied. It isn’t just a catchy phrase uttered by fictional attorneys on U.S. legal dramas. When you’re faced with criminal charges, it aptly describes the grueling months (or years) of stress and anxiety spent waiting for the trial where your fate will be decided. It is a notion derived from the erosion of the memory of witnesses with the passage of time, the loss of potentially exculpatory evidence, and the agony of a life put on hold.
Fortunately, in Canada, an accused person’s right to a trial within a reasonable time is guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and when that right is violated the proceedings against the accused must be stayed (essentially halted, so that the prosecution ceases and the accused remains innocent of the charges). In this matter the client’s trial was delayed for over 30 months, and he retained defence lawyer Tyler MacDonald to argue his case.
The client was charged with violating the provisions of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, essentially accused that he had stolen someone else’s identity in order to enter and remain in Canada. Being convicted of these charges would have virtually guaranteed his deportation to a country where bigoted gangs were certain to resume their violent attacks against the client, with the acquiescence, if not the blessing, of local authorities. Simply put: the client’s life was on the line.
After hearing Mr. MacDonald’s submissions about the reasons for each and every delay of trial in court appearances spanning over two and half years, about the delays in the Crown disclosing its evidence against the client, about the client bearing absolutely no responsibility for the delay of his trial, and about the fact that a key witness had died while the client was waiting for his trial, the judge reserved her decision. She returned three days later with her ruling: the client’s rights had been violated and all charges were stayed.