Criminal law is often seen as existing in its own silo. A person is charged with a criminal offence, they retain a criminal lawyer, go through a judicial process, and a judge or jury decides their outcome. While there are many steps and variations of this process, it does have a general impression of being linear, and thus separate and apart from other aspects of day-to-day life.
Yet no area of law exists in isolation, and criminal law is no exception. When you are charged with a criminal offence, it can have an impact on many other areas of your life. As a result, criminal law intersects with several other areas of law, such as family law, employment law, and immigraiton law on a regular basis. While you may have skilled counsel for issues in other areas, involving a criminal lawyer in your other affairs as needed can have a tremendous benefit.
In our last blog we spoke about the overlaps that often occur between criminal and family law. If there is any allegation of criminal activity during family proceedings, whether they include alleged assault or financial crime, police have the power to blow the doors wide open in order to investigate the matter fully. Even if these allegations are made in anger without any substance, or as an aggressive negotiating tactic by an ex’s counsel, once police become involved it can launch an entirely new set of proceedings with its own challenges. While both can run at the same time, it is sometimes beneficial to have any criminal matters resolved first. Involving a criminal lawyer in your family proceedings cam help your family lawyer navigate the criminal elements of your matter, and ensure that any strategies they take to protect your family interests do not accidentally work towards your detriment.
Criminal charges can also have a significant impact on an accused’s future employment, depending on the result of those charges. Employment law in Ontario is favourable to employees, and generally favours an employee’s privacy when it comes to past criminal matters which have been pardoned. Human rights legislation dictates that employers cannot discriminate against a record of offences, however this primarily applies to offences that have been pardoned. Similarly, recent changes to the law have protected employees against employers learning unnecessary information during a criminal background check. However, the reality is that the outcome of your criminal proceedings can have a longstanding impact on future employment opportunities, and so having the right representation can be what helps keep those opportunities intact.
If you have a criminal record, you will likely have a more difficult time travelling as a Canadian, even if it is as simple as crossing over into the U.S. Similarly, if you are here in Canada on a visitor or a student visa and are charged with a criminal offence, it may have serious implications on your ability to stay in the country or to later apply for citizenship. What complicates matters further is that different nations look at offences differently. For example, a peace bond in Canada, which is effectively a judicial order to stay on good behaviour for a period of time, is not recognized the same way south of the border. When it comes to the crossover between criminal law and immigration, it matters not only what offences you are charged with, but how those offences later appear on your record.
Criminal charges can also play a major role when it comes to any professional regulatory body and its decision-making. A large number of professionals in Canada, such as doctors, nurses, social workers, teachers, real estate agents, and even lawyers are all governed by their own colleges with their own regulations and their own professional discipline bodies. Many of the professional colleges require their members to be ‘of good character,’ and while the definition of good character can vary, a record of offences can have a major impact. Yet while a history of incarceration may impact your professional career, a plea deal may have the same impact. Pleading to a lesser offence may be preferable from a criminal law perspective, but for something like a financial crime, even the lesser charge may seriously impact your ability to continue working in your profession.
No set of laws exists entirely on its own, and criminal law is no exception. While we focus primarily on criminal law, we are always available to work alongside other lawyers who may be representing you in your family, employment, immigration, or professional regulatory matters. A criminal lawyer can provide the guidance to fully inform your next steps, and help guide you and even your counsel to the most optimal solution. Contact us today to learn how we can assist with your matter.