Ontario Criminal


Fact accused had imperfect understanding of law no basis for interfering with convictions

Appeal by accused from his convictions and sentence. Accused pleaded guilty to two violations of Securities Act (Ont.) and he confirmed accuracy of agreed statement of facts tendered in support of pleas. After trial judge was satisfied that accused was prepared to admit his guilt he sentenced accused to 90 days of imprisonment, to be served intermittently, and 12-month term of probation, which required accused to perform 100 hours of community service. Accused claimed convictions were miscarriage of justice for his guilty pleas were not unequivocal, voluntary and informed. Sentence was cruel and unusual punishment. Appeal dismissed. Regarding convictions trial record showed that accused’s pleas were unequivocal, voluntary and informed. There was no proper legal basis to interfere with convictions. Even though accused was not represented by counsel he was sophisticated litigant. He only elected to plead guilty after many meetings and judicial pre-trial conferences and after he signed agreed statement of facts, to be used in support of his anticipated guilty pleas. Judge correctly concluded that agreed statement of facts supported accused’s admissions of guilt. Accused had meeting with prosecutor to resolve outstanding issues and he made it clear he wanted to unconditionally admit his guilt. Prosecutor wanted to have no part in proceeding where accused admitted his guilt and only did so for expedience. Judge then conducted his own detailed and comprehensive inquiry into admission of guilt to make sure it was valid. Accused claimed he pleaded guilty because he was misled by prosecution that he might be able to obtain conditional discharge. Such disposition was not available. There was no evidence that this legal misunderstanding was caused by prosecutor. Mere fact that accused had imperfect understanding of law was no basis for interfering with convictions based on guilty pleas that were otherwise valid. Sentence was upheld as it was fit and accused offered no persuasive reason which would justify appellate interference with sentence.

R. v. Schwartz (Aug. 1, 2013, Ont. S.C.J., Kenneth L. Campbell J., File No. 46/12) 108 W.C.B. (2d) 301.

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