Aboriginal Defendants Ottawa

The Supreme Court of Canada has held that a defendant’s Aboriginal heritage must be taken into account at all stages in the criminal justice process.


  • At the bail stage, the courts recognize that a person’s Aboriginal heritage should be considered when trying to understand why a person has been brought before the justice system and when trying to decide bail conditions for their release.
  • At the sentencing stage, subsection 718.2(e) of the Criminal Code requires judges to consider all available sentences other than imprisonment that are reasonable in the circumstances for all offenders, with particular attention to the circumstances of Aboriginal defendants.


Our lawyers understand that most individuals who find themselves in a bail hearing or before a sentencing judge are there as the result of a variety of background and systemic factors coming to a head. Our goal is to help our Aboriginal defendants obtain just sentences which are responsive to the charges, but more importantly, the personal and family history of abuse, poverty or other extenuating circumstances.  Michael Johnston, Kimberly Hyslop and Matthew Day are all members of the Gladue Panel for Legal Aid Ontario, have taken courses focused on Aboriginal rights and justice issues, and are passionate about preparing the best and most adept defence for Aboriginal defendants.