DISCLAIMER: Please note that the information contained in this post does not constitute legal advice. The law is in perpetual evolution, and this information may be outdated. Furthermore, this information may have little or no relevance for your particular legal predicament. Retaining a lawyer is the surest way to obtain useful and accurate legal advice.
Beyond a reasonable doubt is when a party must prove that something happened, without leaving a reasonable doubt that something else happened, in the mind of a reasonable person. This is the standard of proof required in most criminal cases. The guilt of an accused has to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Balance of probabilities refers to the burden of proof on a party that has to prove that a particular thing is more likely to have occurred than to not have occurred. This the standard of proof required in most civil cases, but it also applies to certain situations in criminal law.
For instance, mitigating circumstances (to the benefit of the accused) at sentencing have to proven on a balance of probabilities, whereas aggravating circumstances (to the detriment of the accused) have to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. See subsections 724(3)(d) and 724(3)(e) of the Criminal Code of Canada.
Sufficiency of proof: In a preliminary inquiry the Crown must show that it has enough admissible evidence which, if accepted by the trial judge, could potentially convict an accused.
Air of reality: at a criminal trial, if there is some evidence that a defence could lead to an acquittal of the accused if it was placed before a jury acting reasonably, then the defence must be considered by the jury. In addition, the Crown has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that each element of that defence fails.
Last year was my final semester. I have met all requirements to earn a
Bachelor of Arts Degree in Criminology. However, in one of my courses (Ethics and Professional Development at Kwantlen Polytechnic
University) I came to learn about a practicum opportunity that would
allow me to have hands-on experience within the criminal field. As
soon as I came to know about the opportunity to work at a law firm, I
immediately wanted to apply.
This past year I was able to gain hands-on experience with individuals
with mental health and challenging behaviours at various shelters and
at my current job as a support worker. My current job gave me
experience working with youth with multiple disorders and challenging
behaviours. Despite the daily challenges that I had to face, I still loved to help out my clients under all circumstances. This past year, I have learned that every person is unique and has a story of their own.
I had always wanted to attend law school once I completed my degree,
but had no reason to, aside from wanting to learn about the law. This being said, there are many individuals who are involved with our Justice System who require an advocate. I got a taste for that this past year. I have built a relationship with a client, in spite of his aggressive behaviours. I was able to help him out because he could trust me. I know that it’s not in his control and underneath all the anger, he is still a human who has feelings and just wants to be understood.
I see this practicum as a great tool for understanding how our legal system works and whether or not it is the right fit for me. The one thing I have learned about myself is that I enjoy helping others and, along with my desire to study the Canadian Law, I see this practicum as a way to see if it fits my goals of helping others who cannot advocate for themselves and require help outside the prisons.