YOu and I seem to be talking about different kinds of files. You give me examples of armed robbery and firearms cases. No - those absolutely should not be pled out on first appearance with duty counsel!
I gave you examples of drunk driving and shoplifting. Those are files that don't need more than five minutes to determine if there is an issue or not.
Well, I don't agree. It's true I went to more serious cases, but those happen to be the ones I have at hand. A shop lifting case with no eye witnesses and an accused person who gave a statement without being advised of right to counsel could easily raise Charter issues. And you'll say it's poochy. And maybe it is. Now the guy is on probation. He's ordered not to be in the store he (allegedly - okay, factually) stole from. But he can't stay away. A breach or two later, he can't get bail anymore. Crown is citing primary ground concerns. So he starts pleading guilty to breaches. Time served the first time. Didn't do the job. Step principle says next time it's a week. And we go from there.
And YES, in that robbery example, we had to fight tooth and nail to get these guys on legal aid. I don't know what's what in Alberta, but in Ontario legal aid is dependent on risk of custody. And if a "reasonable" Crown is only seeking a suspended sentence and a long probation, that can end up screwing a client totally because now he doesn't quality.
I'm not an impaired lawyer. If I were, I'd probably need to rant for an entire page about your description of drunk driving cases as requiring only five minutes to see if there's an issue. But I guess we all see what we get good at seeing.
Here's my honest to God true opinion. You haven't hit me with the strongest argument against my concerns, yet, so I'll spar with myself for a second. The state has limited resources. There are policy-based decisions to be made about the allocation of funds and resources, and the simple truth is that we'll never have a fully just system. If there's some fudge factor around poochy shop-lifting cases, then maybe that's okay but only in relation to the fact that there's going to be slippage somewhere and better there than the next attempt murder case that goes without being properly resourced. I can accept the argument that society is providing all the justice it can afford. I don't know if that's true, but it's at least a valid position to take. At some point, there's just no more money. But I reject and refute the suggestion that there's no slippage at all. People plead guilty all the time to charges they could beat simply because they don't know any better and can't get enough help to identify the weaknesses in the Crown's case. The Crown itself may not even spot the weaknesses, even supposing the Crown would be willing to play absolutely fair and point them out. Now you may be okay with that. Possibly I'm even willing to tolerate it, reluctantly. But let's not pretend it isn't happening.