Stephen Young – Interview a Lawyer Assignment w Calvin Barry

It’s a pleasure having this fine young man doing his work placement at our firm. See his interview with Calvin below:

By Stephen Young

For this assignment, I interviewed criminal defence lawyer, Calvin Barry. I am currently doing my work placement at his firm, Calvin Barry Professional Corporation. His scope of practise focuses on criminal and regulatory offences. Calvin has been in the legal profession for over thirty years. Calvin spent over sixteen years as a Senior Crown Attorney. In the year 2004, he made a switch and started practising criminal and regulatory offence law through his own practise. The thing that Calvin enjoys the most about the job is having his own firm, where he gets to decide his own hours. Additionally, criminal law and regulatory offence matters are always current. Calvin states that there will always be accused persons with drunk driving related charges, who require a defence to ensure their access to justice.  Ultimately, the defence council’s job is  to promote rehabilitation.

Calvin states that the advice that he would give someone entering the profession is that it is a lot of work, and one should expect to work sixty to seventy hours a week to be at the top of their legal discipline. There is also a lot of sacrifices one has to make, because being a criminal defence lawyer is not a nine-to-five job. The main challenges he faces is in relation to Covid-19, where a lot of trials have been moved to Zoom. He foresees in his profession that jury trials will be a challenge due to social distancing. When asked if prefers the Covid-19 methods of phone trials to the traditional in court trials, Calvin replied that he would like to see a combination. Although there are a lot of legal professionals already in the Greater Toronto Area, Calvin thinks that there is still room for new talent who are passionate about practising law. When hiring he looks for legal professionals who are exceptional.

In recent years, there have been many driving under the influence (DUI) offences, resulting in a large amount of victim deaths. This prompted me to ask him if he has observed if the amount of DUI offences that he has been retained for, has increased in the last five years? He replied, “no”. He elaborated that unfortunately there have just been more high-profile ones that have resulted in a large number of victim deaths. When asked where he sees his practise in five years, Calvin hopes to spend less days at the office and would like to do further world travelling.

I asked Calvin about being a defence lawyer and the stigma that comes with defending the “wrong side”. Calvin stated that everyone is entitled to a defense and that he is not the decider of what is right and what is wrong. Calvin believes that all of the accused are entitled to due process and a defence. Additionally, there is always the possibility that the accused did not commit the crime and is innocent. It is the accused’s right under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to a fair trial.

I learned from this interview that one must have a passion to practise law and know that it is not a nine-to-five job. Criminal defence involves mediation, negotiation and diversion. This allows less serious offences to be settled out of court, which allows the courts to have the resources to try the more serious crimes. Additionally, from a criminal lawyer’s perspective  people make mistakes in society and instead of punishing them they should be rehabilitated. I learned that criminal  law is always changing and thus, one must stay informed by reading the news and staying current on new criminal law via a legal database. I learned that my theory that the amount of DUIs has gone up was wrong despite there being more news about DUIs in the media. I learned that by having your own practise, allows you to make your own hours and can be more successful from a monetary standpoint. Lastly, I learned that it is important to have a good work-life balance, as during this interview Calvin was on his way to Port Carling, Ontario to spend the weekend on his boat, “Knot Guilty”.

Facts About DUI Charges in Toronto and the GTA

Drinking and driving remain as one of the top public health concerns in Toronto despite warnings and campaigns by the law and media against driving while intoxicated. A recent survey ranks Canada as number 1 in alcohol-impairment roadway deaths amongst 19 wealthy countries, which is why a DUI charge is met with severe punishments and other life-long consequences.

DUI is A Criminal Offence In Canada

Some people still think that a DUI charge is a minor offence needing only a fine and license suspension to fix. That is far from reality. DUI is a criminal offence in Canada and can result in years of imprisonment as well as a criminal record.

DUI Charges Can Affect Your Livelihood

Because a DUI conviction is marked as a criminal record, it affects one’s ability to get certain jobs and avail of loans for a business venture. It is widely believed that employers do not want to hire someone who is a convicted criminal and nobody wants to conduct business with an ex-con.

Drunk Driving Charges Can Be Dropped         

An experienced drinking and driving lawyer can come up with a defence that can result in getting DUI charges dropped. Your DUI lawyer should be able to identify and point out flaws in the Crown’s case against you to make this possible.

A DUI Conviction Means No Driving for a Year

Even just a charge can result in license suspension as well as hefty fines, especially for repeat offenders. A second offence means 3 years of license suspension, fines, and jail time. A third offence means lifetime license suspension and more jail time, fines, and other penalties.

Not Pleading Guilty is Your First Defence for A DUI Charge

Once you’ve pleaded guilty for a DUI, there is no going back even if you are innocent. It is important to remain calm, hire a DUI lawyer, and stick to facts if you want a fair trial. If you’re looking for a DUI lawyer in Toronto, contact Calvin Barry.



Has There Been an Increase in DUI and Other Criminal Activity During COVID-19?

It can’t be ignored that despite stay at home orders and rising cases of COVID-19, crime and DUI remained about the same, if not more. Businesses and individuals both local and elsewhere are feeling the effects of a slower economy, but law enforcement may be seeing an increase in some criminal activity.

Has Crime Changed?

Closed-door crime has had a recent rise. There are more reports of domestic violence and abuse because more people are staying indoors and are forced to be together more than usual. Other crimes such as shootings and robberies have gone down but car theft has seen a perplexing increase. Law enforcement speculates that it could be because people are not tending to their vehicles as much, giving thieves more opportunities to steal cars. The police also report that calls to their department have decreased overall.

How About Burglaries and Breaking and Entering?

Commercial break-ins and burglaries have seen a slight increase. With businesses closed down, criminals are taking it as an opportunity to rob stores and other businesses, often those that do not have security measures in place. On the other hand, home burglaries and break-ins are experiencing a sudden drop.

Is it True That More People Are Committing DUI?

Although drinking and driving have always been a common crime, it is baffling if it is to have as many cases during the pandemic. COVID-19 caused businesses to shut down. Bars, restaurants, clubs, and gatherings are now at a halt, giving people fewer opportunities to get drunk. This observation of fewer cases of DUI cases is not just seen in Ontario. The same observation is evident in other major population centers in North America but this does not mean that a DUI charge can be taken lightly.

Pandemic or not, criminal charges are prosecuted to the full extent of the law. If you know someone who needs a criminal defence attorney or a DUI lawyer in Toronto, rest assured that Calvin Barry is available to take cases. Calvin Barry is a criminal defence attorney in Toronto with decades of experience championing the law.