What we want to hear

Unpleasant TruthThe Unpleasant Truth

I recently came across this cartoon. It depicts two booths. The booth with a long line dispenses comforting lies. The other booth has no line, dispenses the unpleasant truth.

The cartoon reminded me of a potential client that came into our office the other day. He was charged, as so many of our clients are, with assaulting his wife. The allegation is that he threw a glass plate at her during an argument, which caused her injuries. While not an unusual occurrence, it unfortunately, led to him facing a criminal charge. It also led to him being faced with some unpleasant truths.

Like many men charged with domestic violence, he was in emotional denial at his predicament. Fortunately for him, he was arrested in Toronto, where he was released on a simple promise to appear in court after signing an undertaking to have no contact ‘direct or indirect’ with his wife. Had he been arrested in another jurisdiction such as Peel Region, he likely would have taken into custody and held for a bail hearing – a traumatic event for anyone, and certainly for someone who had never had contact with the criminal justice system.

Being in emotional denial, means that the accused person sitting across from us, desperately wanted to hear some comforting lies. He was fortunate, in that he has the support of his family who attended our office with him. However, the shock was still fresh. We were the third set of lawyers that he was seeing within a few days of being arrested. The problem, from our perspective is that he wasn’t listening to the answers to the questions that he was asking. He was waiting to be told that everything would be fine and return to normal very quickly. He was desperately looking for the comforting lies and not at all interested in the unpleasant truth that he was hearing.

The one thing that every person charged with a criminal offence wants more than anything else, is for the charges to go away. Being dragged through the criminal justice system against one’s will is an emotionally draining process. Research on the Internet will feed your worst fears or lull you into a false sense of comfort. Mostly, the research will uncover an abundance of nonsense. The process is governed in large part by a combination of the seriousness of the allegations, the jurisdiction in which it being prosecuted, the local policies, and of course, the personal circumstances of the person accused of the crime.

While comforting lies can be, well, comforting, they won’t help you get through a very stressful situation in a way that serves your best interests. Our view has always been, and will continue to be, that the unpleasant truth will arm you with the tools to make the best decision in your circumstances.

Hopefully the stressed out gentleman who asked for our advice, will take a moment to look into the mirror and realize that the unpleasant truth is worth listening to at the start of the process rather than having it forced upon him when it’s too late.

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