Navigating Criminal Charges: What will a defence lawyer do for me?

Whether your charges are straightforward or very serious, navigating the criminal justice system can seem like a complex maze which has long lasting consequences. Hiring a lawyer means that you’ll have a guide to help you to understand and navigate the process. This article will outline what a lawyer will do for you and explain the general approach taken at Lakefield LLP.

What happens when you contact us?

Whether you call or email us, we’ll start by connecting you with a criminal defence lawyer to determine what your needs are based on whether you’ve been charged, arrested, or interviewed by police. Before we talk about your matter, we’ll get the names of everyone involved so that we can ensure we don’t have any conflict that would prevent us from representing you.  

How do I retain a lawyer?

The next step is for us to talk about your situation to get a summary of what the police have alleged and what you have been charged with. We will give you some initial information about how things could proceed based on what you’ve told us. If you decide that we’re a good fit for your situation and needs, you can choose to retain any of our defence lawyers to represent you going forward.

What will a lawyer do on my behalf?

After we are retained, your lawyer will contact the Crown Prosecutor and ask for “disclosure”, which is the evidence the Crown Prosecutor has for your specific charges, often including police reports, witness statements, video evidence, among other items. It will usually take a few weeks to receive the disclosure, but this can vary depending on how much evidence there is.

Throughout this process, we will be in touch with the Crown Prosecutor to find out what their position is on your charges. Depending on your situation, we could provide them with an offer for resolution (often called a plea agreement), which usually involves some discussion between the Crown Prosecutor and the defence lawyer to reach an appropriate resolution. Your lawyer will use their research and experience to advise you on whether the resolution is fitting and to provide counter-proposals to the Crown Prosecutor.

What will my lawyer do for me in Court?

Once retained, we’re able to appear in Court on your behalf. This is often done for things like adjournments (scheduling the next date as we continue to work through your matter), and saves you a lot of time and hassle waiting and appearing in Court for administrative matters. Your lawyer will keep you informed so you know exactly what is happening at each Court appearance, and will make sure you know when you need to come to Court.

For appearances where submissions to the Judge are needed, whether for applications or a trial, your lawyer will prepare thoroughly for the appearance and will make submissions to the Court on your behalf. The lawyer will make arguments on the facts and on the law, and will have research and case law prepared to support their positions. Although it is possible to self-represent in these matters, lawyers have the knowledge and experience to argue complicated legal and factual points, and can do so within the strict rules of evidence and procedures of the Court, which can be difficult to navigate on your own.

How will I decide what to do about my charges?

Your lawyer will work closely with you to find the right course of action for your specific case, taking into account your situation and needs. Once we have disclosure, the lawyer will review and analyze it to find the legal and factual issues at play in your matter. After that analysis, we will meet to review the disclosure and discuss the Crown Prosecutor’s case against you, including the possible outcomes for your unique situation. This will include talking about possible defences to the charges and considering the likelihood of success in a trial based on our research, or considering possible sentencing options. Once it is time to make decisions about how to proceed, we will advise you on what we think the best course of action is; however, it is always your choice how you want to proceed.

Do I really need a lawyer?

Although some people choose to self-represent, those who choose to hire a lawyer get the benefit of that lawyer’s training, research, and experience in navigating the complexities of the criminal justice system. They get the peace of mind of knowing that they have someone in their corner fighting for their best interests, and someone to guide them through the difficult process of dealing with criminal charges.

If you are seeking legal representation and would like to discuss your file, the lawyers at Lakefield LLP would be more than happy to talk to you and work with you.

The information in this article does not constitute legal advice. The law may have changed since this article was first published. You should consult with your lawyer to confirm the current state of the law and obtain advice specific to your situation.