Bradley Edwards, a criminal defence lawyer in Calgary, Alberta, says he has received many complaints from his clients who say they are being “tried to prove a point” about a case before being found innocent.
“They’re saying, ‘Hey, you can’t prove this is true, but I’ve been told by a defence lawyer that you’ve got evidence that proves my client is guilty’,” he told CBC News in an interview.
Edwards said the public interest defence is an option that the public has a right to know about.
“The public can’t have that debate because they’re going to be biased,” he said.
“I’m sure there are people who would like to hear that they can prove that the case was wrong.”
Edwards said he is seeing more cases brought before the courts for criminal defence lawyers to argue their clients’ case before the accused.
“If you’re going after someone, it’s usually to try to prove that they’re guilty.
The public is never going to have that opportunity,” he added.
In Alberta, a conviction on an indictable offence, like murder or manslaughter, can result in a sentence of life in prison.
Prosecutors may ask a judge to impose a sentence that includes parole or probation, or impose conditions, like a life sentence without parole or a prison sentence of 25 years.
A defendant may also be required to pay fines and costs.
But in Canada, the courts have broad discretion to impose sentences, including sentences of life without parole.
There is no mandatory life sentence.