Ontario Criminal

Charter of Rights

Case not sufficiently serious or complex that representation by counsel essential to fair trial

Accused charged with failure to stop for police, contrary to Highway Traffic Act (Ont.). Accused applied for stay of proceedings pending provision of funding for his defence. Crown indicated that, upon conviction, sentence involving incarceration would be sought. Accused was 62 years old and had grade 12 education. Accused was receiving employment insurance and obtained his food from food bank. Legal Aid refused accused’s funding request and he had exhausted all appeals. Accused did not approach any of his siblings to borrow funds for his defence, as he had no prospect of paying them back. Accused received estimate of cost for defence from proposed counsel, but acknowledged that he did not approach any other lawyers or paralegals to determine whether he would be able to obtain representation at lower cost or on payment plan. Crown argued that accused’s fair trial rights would not be breached in absence of representation by counsel. Application dismissed. Trial relating to charges faced by accused would be relatively brief, and issues discrete. Minimum sentence of 14 days upon conviction was far from most serious range of possible sentences of incarceration. Accused demonstrated understanding of nature of charges, was able to put forward his own version of underlying facts in understandable and coherent manner, and demonstrated ability to participate effectively in court proceeding. Despite possibility of Charter application and importance of effective cross-examination to successful defence, case was not sufficiently serious or complex that representation by counsel was essential to fair trial.

R. v. Rau (Sep. 9, 2013, Ont. S.C.J., D.A. Broad J., File No. CNJ Misc. 7836) 109 W.C.B. (2d) 113.

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