If you are charged with theft, you might be concerned about who will learn about these charges. Criminal charges can impact your personal and professional relationships. It is understandable that you may not want knowledge of your pending criminal charges to become public information. You may have a lot to lose.
The best way to minimize knowledge about your criminal charges is to work closely with defence counsel to swiftly resolve your criminal charges. A competent and professional lawyer will know how to negotiate with Crown prosecutors and how to get you the best possible result in the most efficient manner.
It is not always your choice who learns about your pending criminal charges. Courts in Canada are open to the public. It is always possible that someone you know will also be at the court on a given day and could learn about the charges you are facing. This is why it is important to try and minimize your appearances in court if you wish to keep your charges confidential, which can be best done by working with a lawyer who understands the criminal justice process.
Will my spouse and/or children find out?
Many people are concerned about having family members learn about their criminal charges. Ultimately, whether or not this happens will mostly be within your control.
Any information you share with your lawyer remains confidential between the two of you. This means even if your spouse or child called our offices we would only be able to disclose what information you consent to be shared. If you wish to keep being a client of ours secret, then we would not be able to confirm to any third parties that you are a client of our firm.
There are other ways that we can assist you with keeping your criminal charges a private matter. We will discuss with you the best way to correspond with you. If you don’t want information shared with your family we will make sure to avoid sending any correspondence to a shared address or telephone number. Having a lawyer is helpful because important documents from the court process can be sent directly to our offices to avoid you having to keep these documents around your shared home.
At the end of the day, it will be up to you to decide whether or not you are going to share your criminal charges with your family members. However, as mentioned above courts are public forums in Canada so it is always possible that family members could learn about your proceedings from someone else. They might also notice changes in your behaviour if you are particularly anxious, secretive or worried. Ultimately, you should make decisions to share information based on what you think is best for you and your family.
Will members of my community learn about my criminal charges?
It is always possible that people will learn about your criminal charges. Courts are open to the public. However, by working with our firm we will do the best we can to try and minimize the likelihood of this happening. We will take every step possible to protect our client’s privacy and confidentiality. One of the first things we will do is talk to you about your main concerns and develop a plan with clients that outlines client priorities and a client’s wishes regarding communication with third parties.
Once my matter is resolved, will people be able to learn about my criminal charges?
Whether or not a record of your criminal charges will continue to follow you after resolution depends on how the charges are resolved. If we are able to help you have your charges withdrawn, then you will have no criminal record. If we are able to help you secure a discharge, then you will also have no formal criminal record. However, other resolutions will leave you with a criminal record that may follow you.
Criminal Record Checks
Many employers ask you to have a criminal record check done before they will offer you a position of employment. Police services offer record checks in cities across the country. With a basic criminal record check the process verifies whether an individual has a criminal record and provides the applicant with the detailed information that can be legally disclosed.
If you anticipate requiring a clear criminal record check in the future this is one of the main reasons you should contact defence counsel as soon as possible to acquire information about how you can try and resolve your charges without a conviction.
Vulnerable Sector Check
Vulnerable sector checks are often done when individuals applying for employment or volunteer work in positions of trust or authority over children, seniors, or other vulnerable persons. This process verifies whether an individual has a criminal record, as well as any record suspensions (formerly pardons) for sexual offences and local police records for information relevant to the vulnerable sector check. The information that can be legally disclosed is provided to the applicant.
If you anticipate working with vulnerable persons in the future, it is important you discuss this with your counsel to obtain appropriate legal advice.
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