What Does It Mean to Be a Party to an Offence? Understanding Your Legal Position

Explore the legal intricacies of being a party to an offence with Sondhi Defence. Our insights guide you through the consequences and defenses in criminal law.

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Becoming a Party to an Offence

A friend asks you to be their getaway driver after a departmental store robbery, and you agree to their demand. After all, you will not be joining them to rob the store. You all are eventually caught and arrested by police officers in Ontario. One of the officers informs you that you are being charged for being party to the offence.

Under Canadian criminal law, individuals who assist in the commission of a crime are just as culpable as those who commit the actual crime. As a party to the offence, it is irrelevant that you did not participate in the physical perpetration of the crime. You could be found guilty of the same offence as the perpetrators.

Knowing when you may become a party to an offence and the repercussions for engaging in such an act is crucial. At Sondhi Defence, we understand that this concept may be difficult to grasp, and we aim to explain every part of it in detail. We can inform you on how to avoid becoming a party to an offence.

If you are already facing charges, we have the experience you need and can craft a robust defence strategy to help your case.

Understanding Being a Party to an Offence

According to Section 21 of the Canadian Criminal Code, you are a party to an offence if:

  • You commit the offence

  • You do or omit to do anything to aid another person in committing the offence

  • You abet any person in committing the offence

Types of Parties in Criminal Offences

It is not only the person who commits the offence (primary offender) that will be held liable. Other parties may be liable as secondary parties. For instance, if you engage the services of a hitman to carry out murder for you, you will not be absolved from liability for the offence.

You may qualify as a party to a criminal offence under various circumstances:

  • The principal offender: You physically commit the offence or direct an innocent party to commit the offence on your behalf.

  • Aiding: You take action or fail to take action to aid the perpetrator in executing the criminal offence.

  • Abetting: You promote, instigate, or encourage the principal offender to commit the crime.

  • Common intention: You and other persons form a common intention to assist each other in carrying out an unlawful purpose, and one of you commits an offence. All parties that knew or should have known that the offence was a probable consequence of their common intention are party to the offence.

  • Person counselling an offence: You incite or solicit a person to commit a criminal act. You are party to the offence and every other offence they commit in consequence of your counselling, even if it is committed differently from your counsel.

  • Accessory after the fact: You comfort or assist a person in escaping, knowing that they are a party to an offence.

Legal Implications and Consequences of Being a Party to an Offence

Being party to an offence means that you will be held liable for the offence even though you are not the actual perpetrator of the offence. Under Canadian law, you will be tried, indicted, and punished as though you have principal liability for committing the offence.

The maximum penalty for a sexual assault conviction tried by indictment is ten years in prison. Where the victim is a minor, the maximum punishment is fourteen years in prison. This is a serious consequence, which would, in turn, result in a criminal record.

Defending Against Allegations of Being a Party to an Offence

Several defences may be used as a justification against a party to an offence charge. The most common defences include:

  • Abandonment: Involves a change of intention and a decision to abandon the unlawful purpose.

  • Accident: This is a denial of your intent to cause the outcome by arguing that the outcome was unintended or unforeseeable.

  • Duress: Establishing that you provided assistance due to threats of harm and had no opportunity to safely remove yourself from the situation.

  • Intoxication: Proving that you were extremely intoxicated and unaware that the offence was being committed

Role of a Criminal Defense Lawyer

As a highly respected criminal law firm, we at Sondhi Defence understand the importance of ensuring fairness and defending the rights of those accused of committing criminal offences. Every criminal case is unique, and our reliable attorneys tailor their approach to each case, ensuring that you get accurate legal advice from the start.

Criminal liability as a party to an offence is an intricate area of criminal law, and our Newmarket litigation lawyers can provide you with reliable legal counsel and the best possible options to avoid a conviction. Some of the key attributes of our practice include:

  • Accessibility: Our lawyers are readily available to respond to your concerns and provide accurate legal counsel.

  • Confidentiality: We handle your sensitive information with the utmost confidentiality, ensuring your private data is always protected.

  • Communication: Our lines of communication are regularly open to our clients, and we keep them informed at every stage.

  • Commitment: We are committed to helping our clients secure the best possible outcomes in their case.

  • Experience: Through our experience from successfully serving several clients in Ontario, we can professionally represent you in court.

Your Rights and Responsibilities

As an accused person, you have certain rights, such as:

  • The right to remain silent

  • The right to be informed of your specific offence

  • The right to speak to a lawyer

  • The presumption of innocence

How Sondhi Defence Can Help

At Sondhi Defence, we know the ins and outs of the criminal justice system and how to help you avoid a conviction. Our dedicated lawyers can help you understand your charges and build an effective defence strategy on your behalf. We can provide criminal defence in the following areas:

Fighting Your Criminal Charges: Securing Skilled Legal Assistance

Navigating the criminal justice system alone can be challenging. Not only will being party to an offence affect your freedom, but it can also impact your professional life and future opportunities. If you are facing charges as a party to an offence, please do not hesitate to contact us today.

We offer a free consultation and can work closely with you from the beginning of your case until the trial.

Get In Touch

If you or someone you know has been charged with a criminal offence, call us right away at 1 (855) 4-SONDHI and get our team on your side. 

Andrew George Cowan
Andrew George Cowan
2023-10-28
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Nic Dasavage
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Jerome
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