If you’re facing criminal charges, who you hire to be your criminal defence lawyer is a crucial decision. Here are five questions to ask to help you chose the best criminal lawyer for your situation. The first 4 questions are for you to ask the lawyer. The last question is for you to ask yourself.
1. What percentage of your practice involves criminal law?
If the lawyer says less than 50 percent, you may be dealing with someone who dabbles in criminal law. The practice of law has become highly specialized. You wouldn’t want a doctor who specializes in foot problems doing surgery on your brain. If you’re facing criminal charges, you need a lawyer with a deep knowledge of criminal law and procedure.
2. How long have you been practising criminal law?
If the lawyer says less than five years, you may be dealing with a beginner. As in most things in life, when it comes to practising law, there really is no substitute for experience. The energetic young lawyer, fresh out of law school, simply won’t have the same level of knowledge or courtroom experience as the lawyer with 15 or more years of experience.
3. Have you done any cases involving charges like mine?
If you’re facing a particularly serious criminal charge, you may be served best by a lawyer who specializes in those types of cases. Canadian criminal law prohibits you from doing many things. When you include regulatory offences, there are literally thousands of ways to get in trouble with the law. Look for a lawyer with expertise in your type of case.
4. Will you do all the important work on my case?
Many criminal lawyers pass along important work on a client’s case to junior lawyers or articled students. They do so for a variety of reasons. Whatever the reason, it increases the chances that something important to your defence might get missed in preparation. When your liberty is at stake, you need to know that the experienced lawyer you hired is the one who will actually do all the important work on your case.
5. Do I trust this lawyer?
When you’re facing criminal charges, there is a lot at stake. You may not be looking at jail time, but a criminal record for even a minor offence can affect your freedom in many ways, such as your ability to travel outside Canada, particularly to the United States.
It is extremely important that you trust the lawyer who will be responsible for protecting your rights and defending you against the power of the state.
So ask yourself, do I trust this lawyer? If the answer is no, nothing else matters. Hire someone else.