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So You Want To Be A Crown (criminal)


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#51 Jaggers

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Posted 02 May 2016 - 09:22 PM

Yeah, labour laws and collective agreements protect incompetent employees when there's lots of work/budget, but afford little protection to competent employees when there's little work/budget.



#52 westerner18

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Posted 02 May 2016 - 09:37 PM

Questions for Malicious Prosecutor: 

-please correct me if I made any errors about the facts I stated. 

 

So from what I know(very limited) in Alberta they have contract crown prosecutors, regular crown prosecutors, and special prosecution (organized crime). So, once you get your foot in the door and are working as a crown prosecutor how long does it take to become a "special prosecutor"? 

 

Also, does the case distribution really depend on seniority, do certain individuals specialize in certain cases or is that only really in the special prosecution category?

 

Lastly, after how many years roughly does it take to break he 100k mark? 

 

Thanks. 


Edited by westerner18, 02 May 2016 - 09:38 PM.


#53 Malicious Prosecutor

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Posted 03 May 2016 - 09:12 AM

Questions for Malicious Prosecutor: 

-please correct me if I made any errors about the facts I stated. 

 

So from what I know(very limited) in Alberta they have contract crown prosecutors, regular crown prosecutors, and special prosecution (organized crime). So, once you get your foot in the door and are working as a crown prosecutor how long does it take to become a "special prosecutor"? 

 

Also, does the case distribution really depend on seniority, do certain individuals specialize in certain cases or is that only really in the special prosecution category?

 

Lastly, after how many years roughly does it take to break he 100k mark? 

 

Thanks. 

 

Lets see what I can do...

 

-contract Crown prosecutors.  Alberta does this a lot less than other places, but yeah in some offices you might only be hired for a one year term.  Once you're hired though there's no distinction made between contract and full-time Crowns.  Crowns on contract are still "regular Crown Prosecutors"

 

-Yes, in both Edmonton and Calgary there are offices called Specialized Crown Prosecutors.  They handle cases that require, well, specialized knowledge.  Off the top of my head there are units doing Organized Crime, Internet and Technology crime, regulatory / OHSA offences.  There are probably one or two more.  They're not necessarily doing more serious or more important cases - homicides are still handled by General Prosecutions.  They're still on the same pay scale as General Prosecutors.  The Crowns in specialized prosecutions are mostly, but not all, fairly senior.  You can apply for those positions at any time - you just need to demonstrate that you have some specialized experience.

 

-by the way, the other big branch would be our Appeals branch.  They handle all matters at the Court of Appeal level.

 

-how are cases distributed?  That's always been a contentious issue in every Crown office, ever.  It definitely does depend in part on seniority.  You don't handle the most serious files to junior Crowns.  Typically one way or another people do develop certain expertise.  If I have a drunk driving question, or a firearms question, or a sex assault question, I go to three separate people for each.  In some offices it is more formal, with specialized units for different categories of offences.  In other offices it's more informal - any day you can be expected to run any kind of file, but when it comes to the more complex they tend to go to specific people.

 

-I don't have the pay grid in front of me, but IIRC it's around the 5-8 year mark.



#54 westerner18

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Posted 03 May 2016 - 10:07 AM

thankyou !


Edited by westerner18, 03 May 2016 - 10:29 AM.


#55 atOnz

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Posted 17 May 2016 - 03:57 AM

What kind of learning curve exists for junior crowns with little prior criminal experience? I have been working primarily in civil litigation (not personal injury).

 

Are there any books or other resources you might recommend for the basics? I can appreciate nothing is better than being in court, but assume the ability to do that is limited.



#56 Jethro

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Posted 17 May 2016 - 06:52 AM

What kind of learning curve exists for junior crowns with little prior criminal experience? I have been working primarily in civil litigation (not personal injury).

 

Are there any books or other resources you might recommend for the basics? I can appreciate nothing is better than being in court, but assume the ability to do that is limited.

 

Not a Crown (yet) but did a lot of criminal defence clinic work over the last 2 years. I suggest you look at Lee Stuesser's "An Advocacy Primer" for a good overview of the trial process for new lawyers or those who only do occasional trials. It covers everything from developing a theory of your case to preparing for an appeal, and most of the stuff in between. This book isn't about substantive law; it's about how to conduct court proceedings. The thing I found most disconcerting (and still do) is when I don't know the proper procedure to handle a situation that comes up; this book gives you a heads-up on most things, as well as practical tips on how to prepare. I would suggest picking up either the 3rd or 4th edition, though; apparently there was a big (positive) change between 2 and 3.


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#57 Hegdis

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Posted 17 May 2016 - 07:44 AM

What kind of learning curve exists for junior crowns with little prior criminal experience? I have been working primarily in civil litigation (not personal injury).

 

Are there any books or other resources you might recommend for the basics? I can appreciate nothing is better than being in court, but assume the ability to do that is limited.

 

http://novascotia.ca...rown_manual.asp



#58 Plinko

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Posted 24 May 2016 - 08:23 AM

What's the best way to prep for a Crown interview for articling?

 

I've had a couple interviews already, however it feels like I'm approaching it the wrong way. The strategy in the past I've employed is to review my 1L criminal law notes, review my evidence notes, read through the Crown manual, memorize important Charter sections, prep a recent SCC criminal law case, and look at previous questions asked by the Crown by my school's CDO.

 

My issue that everytime I go into an interview, I get asked questions that I either: a) didn't study (such as specific questions about the HTA), b) hypothetical questions that catch me off guard, or c) situational questions about being a crown (i.e. questions about a self rep accused wanting disclosure).

 

It's overwhelming the amount of information and breadth of questions in a Crown interview, mixed with the nervousness of (basically) an oral exam.

 

Any pointers or advice would be greatly appreciated!


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#59 krumb

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Posted 26 May 2016 - 12:07 PM

I'd appreciate any tips for Crown articling interviews too. I'm rather expecting mine to be slapstick comedy, but we'll see what happens.

#60 legalname

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Posted 15 November 2016 - 10:18 AM

Lets see what I can do...

Read through the discussion. Thank you for taking the time to answer questions. This may seem somewhat odd of a question, but have you ever felt that your safety/security was at risk? Can't help but think there'd be some anxiety over putting so many people away.   



#61 Malicious Prosecutor

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Posted 15 November 2016 - 10:39 AM

Read through the discussion. Thank you for taking the time to answer questions. This may seem somewhat odd of a question, but have you ever felt that your safety/security was at risk? Can't help but think there'd be some anxiety over putting so many people away.   

 

Not for the most part.

 

Most criminals are quite unsophisticated.  They're not going to remember your name, be able to track down where you live (I do basic stuff to keep my privacy like having an unlisted number).  My name and address are listed with the local police so presumably if I ever have to call 911 they know what I do.

 

The most sophisticated criminals, on the other hand, know it is just not worth it to try and intimidate a front-line Crown.  They know that's the best way to get police and courts to come down on them extra hard.

 

So what does worry me?  When I lived in a small jurisdiction I might occasionally run into someone I had prosecuted recently - and they would recognize me.  Nothing ever happened, but you worry about someone with poor impulse control doing something on a whim.  Or the handful of times I get in an elevator after court and at the last minute the fellow I am prosecuting gets in as well (note to self: always wait till the Accused leaves first, or take the stairs).



#62 Diplock

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Posted 15 November 2016 - 10:57 AM

Read through the discussion. Thank you for taking the time to answer questions. This may seem somewhat odd of a question, but have you ever felt that your safety/security was at risk? Can't help but think there'd be some anxiety over putting so many people away.   

 

I don't want to hone in on this discussion, but I've always considered Crown safety and defence issues to be two sides of the same coin. As MP says, sophisticated criminals aren't particularly a threat. They are motivated by profit and self-interest, and there's neither in coming after lawyers. The people with poor impulse control are the greater danger. And I don't want to exaggerate that either. It isn't like we live our lives in fear or under constant threat. But there are, undeniably, certain members of society who are basically dangerous to everyone they come into contact with. And our job brings us directly into contact with a disproportionately large number of those people.

 

They may blame Crowns for their misfortune when they are convicted. They may also blame defence. You'd be surprised how even the less sophisticated criminals are still basically rational people. They know the Crowns are there to do a job. When they lose, they are more apt to fault the people who failed at their job - the defence. Of course it isn't that simple, and never is, but yeah. It happens. And so all the same steps that MP refers to above are fair suggestions for all criminal lawyers, or really anyone working in the justice system - cops, judges, etc. Though as entrepreneurs, defence counsel are often the ones pushed more towards compromise. Many clients have my direct cell, for example. What can you do? You do need the business, and client service matters.

 

I'll just say that in my experience, problems like this are very rare. It's like working in a job that makes it three or four times more likely you'll suffer from brain cancer in your lifetime. That sounds really bad. But it's actually the difference between 0.005% chance and 0.02%, or whatever. It's real, but let's not exaggerate it. Spending time around people who are inclined towards violence does raise the possibility that you'll be subject to a mostly-random attack at some point in your life. But only in the same way as above.



#63 legalname

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Posted 15 November 2016 - 12:00 PM

Thanks so much to both of you for being so thorough. That's the one major concern keeping me from pursuing this route so it helps to hear your perspectives. 



#64 Malicious Prosecutor

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Posted 15 November 2016 - 01:31 PM

Thanks so much to both of you for being so thorough. That's the one major concern keeping me from pursuing this route so it helps to hear your perspectives. 

 

In over a decade I can think of exactly one negative encounter.  I was in a remote town, in the gas station across the street from the courthouse.  A fairly intoxicated individual came up to me and said something like "How can you live with yourself".  I think I said "I'm just doing my job" and walked away from him, but I was a little worried what this fellow was going to do.



#65 Jethro

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Posted 15 November 2016 - 05:03 PM

Read through the discussion. Thank you for taking the time to answer questions. This may seem somewhat odd of a question, but have you ever felt that your safety/security was at risk? Can't help but think there'd be some anxiety over putting so many people away.   

 

I'm articling with the Crown, so obviously I bring relatively little experience to this discussion, but I'll chip in anyway. As an articling student, I deal with low-level stuff. I also deal with traffic court. Far and away the people who get the most emotionally invested are those in traffic court, which is funny since in terms of seriousness it doesn't even register, but people aren't thinking about that. I've had a few people get really upset, but the only time I was even remotely concerned was when I thought a person was going to fly off the handle. As MP said, impulse control seems to be the big deal. But that's why we have sheriffs, clerks with panic buttons and a 1500-page hardcover Criminal Code.

 

On the other hand, I've never had a criminal accused so much as look at me sideways.



#66 legalname

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Posted 16 November 2016 - 03:55 PM

In over a decade I can think of exactly one negative encounter.  I was in a remote town, in the gas station across the street from the courthouse.  A fairly intoxicated individual came up to me and said something like "How can you live with yourself".  I think I said "I'm just doing my job" and walked away from him, but I was a little worried what this fellow was going to do.

I can imagine I'd be more than worried. Thanks again for sharing. 

 

 

I'm articling with the Crown, so obviously I bring relatively little experience to this discussion, but I'll chip in anyway. As an articling student, I deal with low-level stuff. I also deal with traffic court. Far and away the people who get the most emotionally invested are those in traffic court, which is funny since in terms of seriousness it doesn't even register, but people aren't thinking about that. I've had a few people get really upset, but the only time I was even remotely concerned was when I thought a person was going to fly off the handle. As MP said, impulse control seems to be the big deal. But that's why we have sheriffs, clerks with panic buttons and a 1500-page hardcover Criminal Code.

 

On the other hand, I've never had a criminal accused so much as look at me sideways.

Good to know there are effective preventive measures in place. A friend of mine works for the government and has had similar experiences in traffic court; sounds awful. Thanks for your input! 
 



#67 Malicious Prosecutor

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Posted 16 November 2016 - 04:07 PM

I'm articling with the Crown, so obviously I bring relatively little experience to this discussion, but I'll chip in anyway. As an articling student, I deal with low-level stuff. I also deal with traffic court. Far and away the people who get the most emotionally invested are those in traffic court, which is funny since in terms of seriousness it doesn't even register, but people aren't thinking about that. I've had a few people get really upset, but the only time I was even remotely concerned was when I thought a person was going to fly off the handle. As MP said, impulse control seems to be the big deal. But that's why we have sheriffs, clerks with panic buttons and a 1500-page hardcover Criminal Code.

 

On the other hand, I've never had a criminal accused so much as look at me sideways.

 

Yup, I can remember doing court in a small town.  You'd run a short docket, then by the pm you'd have 3 trials set.  You might have a shoplifting, a drunk driving, and a no left turn ticket.  Without a doubt the angriest and most obstinate defendant would be on the ticket.

 

I can also remember a guy on a ticket complaining about how he was losing $2000 by missing work to fight his ticket.  I was young and foolish and replied "well it sounds like it was pretty dumb to lose $2000 to fight a $200 ticket".  He didn't like that.


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#68 beyondsection17

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Posted 13 January 2017 - 04:38 AM

Just curious, and I apologize if this has been asked before - how difficult is it to become a Crown if you don't article with the Crown?



#69 Jethro

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Posted 14 January 2017 - 11:00 AM

Just curious, and I apologize if this has been asked before - how difficult is it to become a Crown if you don't article with the Crown?

 

I would imagine it depends on what province you're looking at or if you want to go federal. I can only say there are a number of people in my office who articled/practiced in criminal defence before seeing the light, but I really have no idea how hard it was. The thing about government is that hiring is restricted by whatever the current funding level is; you could be the best applicant ever, but if the budget isn't there, it just isn't.


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#70 providence

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Posted 22 January 2017 - 12:29 PM

I don't want to hone in on this discussion, but I've always considered Crown safety and defence issues to be two sides of the same coin. As MP says, sophisticated criminals aren't particularly a threat. They are motivated by profit and self-interest, and there's neither in coming after lawyers. The people with poor impulse control are the greater danger. And I don't want to exaggerate that either. It isn't like we live our lives in fear or under constant threat. But there are, undeniably, certain members of society who are basically dangerous to everyone they come into contact with. And our job brings us directly into contact with a disproportionately large number of those people.

 

They may blame Crowns for their misfortune when they are convicted. They may also blame defence. You'd be surprised how even the less sophisticated criminals are still basically rational people. They know the Crowns are there to do a job. When they lose, they are more apt to fault the people who failed at their job - the defence. Of course it isn't that simple, and never is, but yeah. It happens. And so all the same steps that MP refers to above are fair suggestions for all criminal lawyers, or really anyone working in the justice system - cops, judges, etc. Though as entrepreneurs, defence counsel are often the ones pushed more towards compromise. Many clients have my direct cell, for example. What can you do? You do need the business, and client service matters.

 

I'll just say that in my experience, problems like this are very rare. It's like working in a job that makes it three or four times more likely you'll suffer from brain cancer in your lifetime. That sounds really bad. But it's actually the difference between 0.005% chance and 0.02%, or whatever. It's real, but let's not exaggerate it. Spending time around people who are inclined towards violence does raise the possibility that you'll be subject to a mostly-random attack at some point in your life. But only in the same way as above.

 

I find I actually fear for my safety less after doing my job for a while.  Where before I was kind of socialized to see homeless people or street gangs hanging around etc. to be scary and dangerous people to stay away from (and I grew up with a lot of those around), now I just see them as examples of the kind of people I represent and basically harmless to me because I know why or how they commit crimes. Once in a while, I'll even see a client hanging around somewhere when I'm out, and if they see me, they are super friendly and telling all their friends who I am.  I also have never had a client express any kind of animosity to Crowns or to defence counsel to a level that would suggest they want to harm that person.  It would take a fair bit of sophistication to carry out something like that.  I could see it being an issue with very organized crime (biker gangs, high-level drug dealing operations) and there have been occasional safety concerns with those, but not with your run of the mill accused.  I've had my clients tell me if I ever need protection or need someone beaten up, to call them!



#71 providence

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Posted 22 January 2017 - 12:30 PM

I would imagine it depends on what province you're looking at or if you want to go federal. I can only say there are a number of people in my office who articled/practiced in criminal defence before seeing the light, but I really have no idea how hard it was. The thing about government is that hiring is restricted by whatever the current funding level is; you could be the best applicant ever, but if the budget isn't there, it just isn't.

 

You mean going to the dark side....



#72 Malicious Prosecutor

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Posted 25 January 2017 - 09:27 AM

Just curious, and I apologize if this has been asked before - how difficult is it to become a Crown if you don't article with the Crown?

 

Don't always check this thread, so sorry for the delay...

 

It's not particularly difficult.  The majority of Crowns did not article here.


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#73 JohnBordeaux

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Posted 07 February 2017 - 10:55 AM

Think of the best and the worst defence counsels that you've ever worked with - which traits stand out? 


Edited by JohnBordeaux, 07 February 2017 - 10:57 AM.


#74 Malicious Prosecutor

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Posted 07 February 2017 - 11:03 AM

Think of the best and the worst defence counsels that you've ever worked with - which traits stand out? 

 

The most important trait for a defence lawyer is to know your file.  Put in the work - read the file, know what the evidence and issues are.  If you're a law student you might think that rather obvious, but once you're in the midst of a heavy practise it can be hard to put in the time.  So lawyers start to cut corners, skim, read files the night before (and Crowns can be equally guilty of this as well).

 

If you don't know your file, you can't make reasonable admissions.  You can't meaningfully discuss resolution.  You wind up making the entire process much longer and more tedious than it needs to be.

 

So, the best defence counsels know their file, inside and out.  And the worst ones... don't.


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#75 JohnBordeaux

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Posted 07 February 2017 - 11:18 AM

The most important trait for a defence lawyer is to know your file.  Put in the work - read the file, know what the evidence and issues are.  If you're a law student you might think that rather obvious, but once you're in the midst of a heavy practise it can be hard to put in the time.  So lawyers start to cut corners, skim, read files the night before (and Crowns can be equally guilty of this as well).

 

If you don't know your file, you can't make reasonable admissions.  You can't meaningfully discuss resolution.  You wind up making the entire process much longer and more tedious than it needs to be.

 

So, the best defence counsels know their file, inside and out.  And the worst ones... don't.

Thanks for the reply!