Frequently Asked Questions
1. I’ve been charged with a criminal or quasi-criminal (i.e., Traffic Safety Act or Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis
Act) offence, what’s my next step?
You should consult an experienced criminal lawyer for advice as soon as possible. However, if your first appearance is approaching quickly you will have to appear at either the Case Management Office (CMO) or a specified courtroom at a certain courthouse. On your first appearance, you should adjourn your charges for a period of time (i.e., 2 to 3 weeks) to give you enough time to seek legal advice and retain a lawyer.
2. How much does it cost to talk to a lawyer?
Many criminal lawyers offer a free initial consultation. This may be done in the lawyer’s office or over the phone, depending on the lawyer’s preference. During this initial consultation, an experienced criminal lawyer will be able to answer your questions regarding fees and to some extent, will be able to answer general questions about the charges against you. A lawyer will not be able to answer specific questions about your case at this stage, as he/she would not have your disclosure (the Crown’s case against you).
3. Do I need a lawyer?
Not technically. However, a non-lawyer has no training in criminal law. It’s like having a broken arm, you wouldn’t try to set it yourself, you’d go to a doctor. An experienced criminal lawyer can ease your stress by dealing with your charge to achieve the best possible result for you.
4. Should I just plead guilty and get the matter over with?
You can if you wish but you will, in most circumstances, acquire a criminal record by doing so. This may affect your ability to travel internationally, especially to the U.S., as well as causing you potential difficulties in seeking employment. It is always best to seek the advice of an experienced criminal lawyer before deciding to plead guilty.
5. What does a “retainer” mean?
A retainer is a sum of money paid up front to a lawyer to secure his/her services. Individuals charged with criminal or quasi-criminal offences often confuse a lawyer’s “retainer” with a lawyer’s “fee”. For example, a lawyer might ask you for a $2,000.00 retainer (simply a number for the purposes of this example, different lawyers may have different retainer fees) in a particular case. The lawyer’s final “fee” though may be $5,000.00 (simply a number for the purposes of this example, different lawyers may have different fees), depending on what you instruct the lawyer to do. You will be responsible for the balance of the lawyer’s fee after paying a retainer along with paying GST on fees and disbursements (i.e., photocopying charges, etc.).
6. How much is this going to cost me and what can I expect?
A criminal lawyer’s fee will depend upon several factors. Some of these are: the seriousness of the charge, the complexity of the issues in your case, the lawyer’s experience with the type of charge you face, the lawyer’s overall experience and the estimated length of time required to resolve the case. Criminal lawyers are not in the habit of guaranteeing a particular result in a criminal case. This is because a judge or a jury makes the final decision. Having said this, there are occasions in criminal law where a lawyer can tell his/her client what a result is expected to be based on certain factors in the case. This would be on a case-by-case basis.
7. Can I make payments and what form of payments do you accept?
Yes, payments can be made on a regular schedule to be mutually agreed upon. This office accepts all forms of payment except for credit cards. The preferred method of payment is Interac E-Transfer, especially in the wake of the COVID pandemic.
8. Do you handle other areas of law?
I practice only in the areas of criminal defence law.
Disclaimer – This is provided for information only and is in no way meant to be taken as legal advice. If you are seeking legal advice please book a consultation.
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