Attempted Murder Lawyers in Toronto
What is Attempted Murder?
Attempted murder is one of the most serious charges in the Criminal Code. In order to be convicted, the Crown must prove that you attempted to cause the death of another human being or attempted to cause bodily harm that is likely to result in death, and you intended to do so. Your intent is not in relation to the alleged victim, but instead that you intended to commit the actions of the offence. A firearm being shot randomly into a crowd of people, for example, can constitute the requisite intent to be convicted of attempted murder.
The Crown may rely on a wide array of evidence to prove at trial that you had the required intention:
- Did you make any statements to any witnesses or authorities about what your intention was?
- Were your actions alone sufficient to demonstrate that you intended to cause a death?
The relevant provision for attempted murder in the Canadian Criminal Code is:
Attempt to commit murder
239 (1) Every person who attempts by any means to commit murder is guilty of an indictable offence and liable
(a) if a restricted firearm or prohibited firearm is used in the commission of the offence or if any firearm is used in the commission of the offence and the offence is committed for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with, a criminal organization, to imprisonment for life and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of
(i) in the case of a first offence, five years, and
(ii) in the case of a second or subsequent offence, seven years;
(a.1) in any other case where a firearm is used in the commission of the offence, to imprisonment for life and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of four years; and
(b) in any other case, to imprisonment for life.
As you can see from the Criminal Code provision, you will be punished more harshly if a firearm or prohibited firearm is used in the commission of the offence, or if it is done for/with a criminal organization. The sentencing range, however, is broad, because there are so many factors that can be in play, influencing the punishments that the Court delivers.
Investigation of Attempted Murder Charges in Toronto
An investigation of an attempted murder allegation in Toronto is typically initiated by the alleged victim (or relative or witness). They contact the local Toronto Police Service and report it. The police will attend the scene and request a written statement from the alleged victim and any other witnesses, then they will launch an investigation.
Because attempted murder is a serious offence, it requires a thorough police investigation. Police will typically interview all witnesses to the offence, review surveillance videos, seize any weapons used, photograph the scene, and obtain medical documents to prove the type and extent of the alleged victim’s injuries.
After the police have gathered their evidence, they will arrest you if they believe you are the perpetrator. If you are not present at the scene, police will track you down or issue a warrant for your arrest.
Even if a complainant makes an allegation of attempted murder that they later withdraw, it’s up to the Crown Prosecutor to decide whether to pursue the charges against you. Given the severity of the offence, the complainant is likely to be subpoenaed to appear in court, even against their wishes.
After you have been charged, police will provide a package with all the evidence they collected, known as the “disclosure package,” to the Crown Prosecutor. You will have the right to access this disclosure package to see the evidence against you. Once you retain one of our lawyers, we will assist you in obtaining the disclosure package, and we will review it with you to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the Crown’s case, as well as any legal defences that may be available to you.
Bail Process and Conditions for Attempted Murder Charges in Toronto
How do I get myself or a loved one out on bail for attempted murder charges in Toronto?
When charged with attempted murder, you will be kept in custody and require a formal bail hearing to secure your release.
In order to conduct a bail hearing, you will be taken to the Toronto Police Service Division that is responsible for the alleged crime. The bail hearing must be held within 24 hours, a period that starts from the moment of arrest or detention rather than the time when you are brought into the Division.
The phone number for each division is 416-808-[Division Number – 00], so for example, the number for 52 Division is 416-808-5200. The addresses for each Division of the Toronto Police Service can be found here.
Alternatively, you may be held at the Toronto South Detention Centre:
160 Horner Ave
Toronto, ON M8Z 0C2
Loved ones are not able to contact you while you are detained. The police will not release any information to friends or family due to privacy laws. Your lawyer is the only person allowed to contact you. Once the police have verified your lawyer’s details, they will pass on information about your whereabouts, if requested.
Because of these difficulties, while you are held in custody, it is best to appoint a competent defence lawyer as soon as possible to manage the legal processes and communicate with loved ones. After an arrest, the police must provide you with the opportunity to call a lawyer in private and, if that happens, stop questioning you.
Once you retain one of our experienced criminal defence lawyers, we will begin working to secure your release on bail. We will immediately do the following:
- Call the Division where you are being held in Toronto and speak to you.
- Contact the Prosecutor assigned to the bail hearing to start negotiating your release.
- Order and secure a copy of the police information package that details the allegations against you in advance of the bail hearing. This allows the lawyer to make meaningful representations to the Court about why you should be released on bail.
- Conduct either an in-person or teleconference bail hearing to secure your release.
At the time of your bail hearing, you will be transported to the courthouse associated with the particular police division, except for on weekends when Old City Hall holds weekend bail court.
Old City Hall is located at:
60 Queen St W
Toronto, ON M5H 2M3
When you attend your bail hearing, the Judge will consider:
- Is detention necessary to secure your attendance in court?
- Is detention necessary to protect the public from a substantial risk of re-offence?
- Is detention necessary in all the circumstances to maintain confidence in the administration of justice?
Due to the extreme seriousness of the charge, the prosecution will almost certainly ask the Judge that you be kept in jail for the entirety of your case. If you have a prior criminal record involving violence or breaching court orders, being released from custody will be a very difficult task.
We will make a thorough presentation to the Judge demonstrating why you are entitled to be released on bail while your case goes through the justice system. We will emphasize all your personal qualities that demonstrate that you are not a flight risk, nor will you commit new offences on bail.
Our lawyers are often successful at persuading the Prosecutor in charge of bail to let our clients out. If we can’t convince the Crown, we can conduct a formal bail hearing and work to convince the Court. If you are ultimately detained, we can appeal that decision on very short notice through a bail review, which is conducted at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
Where can I pay for bail for attempted murder charges in Toronto?
If you or a loved one are charged with attempted murder in Toronto and granted bail, you may be required to provide a cash deposit to secure release. The cash deposit can be paid at any bail hearing office (courthouse) in Ontario. If you live in Ottawa, you can pay bail there for someone detained in Toronto.
Bail hearing offices in Toronto are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The simplest way to pay bail is usually to pay it at the courthouse where the bail hearing was held. For instance, at Old City Hall, you can pay the cash deposit at Room 7 on the ground floor. If you are held at the Toronto South Detention Centre, bail can also be paid there.
In Ontario, because of the prevalence of Justices of the Peace and Judges requiring a surety, various bail programs provide an alternative to a surety. The contact number for the Toronto Bail Program is 416-314-3765.
To pay your own bail, you can make a payment after your hearing, assuming you have sufficient funds with you to do so.
How do I change my release conditions for attempted murder charges in Toronto?
Release on bail with attempted murder charges will almost always require a surety, cash, or no-cash deposit.
Furthermore, you can expect extremely tight restrictions, including conditions to refrain from:
- Interacting with the alleged victim,
- Attending the alleged victim’s home or place of work,
- Leaving your house (i.e. house arrest),
- Staying out beyond a certain time (i.e. curfew),
- Breaking any laws,
- Using drugs or alcohol,
- Possessing weapons,
- Possessing firearms,
- Visiting certain places, and/or
Some of these conditions can prove to be difficult, especially where an alleged victim or witness is a family member of yours. If you share a home with the alleged victim, you are unlikely to be allowed to return home until the matter is addressed again in court. Even if you are paying the rent, are on the lease, or own the home outright. A competent defence lawyer will address this challenge immediately.
The Judge may also impose some additional conditions such as:
- Residing where approved,
- Reporting to probation,
- Attending counselling, and/or
- Maintaining or seeking employment.
A variety of factors will be considered when determining your precise restrictions, including:
- Your criminal history,
- Your physical and mental condition,
- Your history of drug/alcohol usage,
- The nature of the alleged attempted murder,
- The likelihood that you will flee,
- Whether you have stable employment,
- Whether you have stable living arrangements, and
- Whether you have ties to the community.
If you have already been released, at least for the short term, it is critical that you make arrangements to abide by your conditions until they can be changed. Breaching the terms of your release can result in further charges or a revocation of your bail, as well as a forfeiture of any cash paid to secure your release. It is important to take these conditions seriously.
Once the matter is in court, we can work with the Crown Prosecutor to alter your conditions. This includes either adding exceptions to some of the conditions or eliminating them altogether.
If your court date is far away and you cannot wait until then, we can arrange to have the matter dealt with sooner. Our first priority is always to stabilize your release conditions. That way, you will not feel pressured to plead guilty because of the restrictive terms of your release. Once the conditions are manageable and as minimally intrusive to your daily routine as possible given the nature of this offence, we can focus 100% of our attention on defending the case.
Penalties for Attempted Murder Charges in Toronto
If you are convicted of attempted murder, you can expect to face significant penalties. It is a straight indictable offence, which means that the Crown and the Court take it extremely seriously, and the punishments reflect that.
The Criminal Code of Canada outlines the maximum punishment for any attempted murder charge as imprisonment for life.
The Code also outlines mandatory minimum punishments as follows:
- Committed the offence using a restricted/prohibited firearm:
- First offence: 5 years’ imprisonment minimum,
- Second or subsequent offence: 7 years’ imprisonment minimum;
- Committed the offence for/with a criminal organization and using any kind of firearm:
- First offence: 5 years’ imprisonment minimum,
- Second or subsequent offence: 7 years’ imprisonment minimum;
- Committed the offence with any other kind of firearm: 4 years’ imprisonment minimum.
In addition to the immediate penalties resulting from a conviction for attempted murder, it will also have negative consequences on your future. You will likely have trouble securing employment in the field of your choice. This is especially the case for roles that require interacting with children, the elderly, or other vulnerable sectors of society. The lifelong criminal record that results from a conviction can also hinder immigration and travel, and can cause significant child custody issues.
Therefore, even if you intend on accepting responsibility for this type of offence, it is worthwhile to explore your options and consider all the possible penalties. Often, good representation can greatly reduce the severity of punishment that you face.
Rest assured, our lawyers will work hard to defend you so that you are not saddled with the most severe consequences of a criminal conviction for attempted murder. To learn more about potential non-criminal resolutions, please visit our Resolutions page, or read our FAQ on resolutions and other sentencing options.
Defending Attempted Murder Charges in Toronto
What are the best defences to attempted murder charges in Toronto?
In attempted murder cases, the defences that may be available to you depend on the facts of your case.
In general, the best defences are:
- Factual Innocence: This is usually the strongest defence because the facts and the evidence do not support you being there, attempting the murder, or other basic elements of the offence. This could include:
- Identity: In some circumstances where the offence was not recorded by surveillance footage, or the footage is poor quality, you may be able to raise an identity defence. For example, authorities could have made a mistake in identifying you as the perpetrator based on the poor quality of the footage. In order to effectively raise this defence, you may need corroborative evidence, such as an alibi to where you were at the time of the offence.
- Mere Preparation: If your actions did not cross the threshold from ‘mere preparation’ to ‘attempt,’ this will challenge an attempted murder conviction.
- Violation of Constitutional Rights: The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms sets out your rights before and after your arrest. If the police fail to abide by these rights, it could aid in your defence.
While the Crown must prove the elements of the offence beyond a reasonable doubt, you may bear some responsibility in raising certain defences at trial.
The availability and strength of any defence depends entirely on the specific facts of your case. Our lawyers have significant experience assessing the availability and strengths of various potential defences in attempted murder cases, as well as presenting any and all available defences to the Court at trial. Even if you believe that you will be found guilty, it is important that you obtain a legal opinion about defences that may be available to you.
How can I help defend attempted murder charges in Toronto?
If you have been charged with attempted murder in Toronto, the following can help your lawyer build a strong defence:
- Provide your lawyer with a statement about what happened;
- Collect and maintain all documents and records about the event;
- Gather a list of witnesses that may support your version of events; and
- Log any relevant texts, emails, phone calls or photographic evidence.
As soon as you are released on bail, you should start to gather any information that may be of use to your lawyer. What information is relevant will depend on the facts in your case. If you are uncertain what information to collect, you should contact one of our lawyers immediately to create a plan of action for gathering information.
If you are truly proactive about the matter, consider doing the following:
- Secure proof of employment;
- Secure reference letters;
- Enroll in counselling (anger management/substance abuse/parenting);
- Secure a record of prescriptions; and
- Secure a record of any mental health conditions you suffer from.
These steps can be very helpful for building an effective defence.
What can a lawyer do to help me defend against attempted murder charges in Toronto?
As we start preparing your defence by examining police actions and the evidence against you, there are certain defence strategies that can be used to aid your cause, including:
- Assembling documents, photographs, texts, etc. that contradict the allegation and support your defence;
- Gathering evidence from witnesses that support your version of events;
- Identifying mistakes in the actions of the police, such as Charter breaches;
- Uncovering administrative/systemic errors, such as “Jordan delay,” non-disclosure, lost or destroyed evidence, etc.; and
- Finding weaknesses or “holes” in the Crown’s case that may make it difficult or Impossible for them to establish the elements of the offence.
Because of the severity of the offence, even the simplest attempted murder cases are complex and fact specific. The circumstances of your case will likely further complicate the matter.
We have tried our best to provide a general outline of what you can expect if you find yourself in this situation, but this is just the tip of the iceberg.
To learn more about how we can help, please contact our team of Attempted Murder Lawyers. We will conduct a thorough review of your situation and tailor a precise strategy that targets your successful defence.
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