There are some offenses that do not require you to hire a lawyer – most of us have been issued a ticket for speeding or parking illegally, and these matters can be settled out of court by paying a fine. Other situations are more serious and require the assistance of legal professionals. It is important to know what to look for in a criminal lawyer so that you can choose the attorney who is best for your unique situation.
If you’re charged with a criminal offense, you need a criminal lawyer
This may sound obvious, but it isn’t always with people who are inexperienced with hiring lawyers. Lawyers in Ontario are allowed to take any case they choose, but that does not mean that they will be successful in defending their client. The law is an incredibly broad topic, which is why lawyers have specialties. If you are charged with assault, a lawyer who works in intellectual property law will not be of much help. You need to make sure that you hire somebody who is going to deliver the results that you want.
Actions speak louder than words
This may be a cliché, but it is true, nonetheless. You should be wary of a lawyer who makes promises and tells you what you want to hear. A lawyer should give you their honest opinion about what they believe the outcome of the case will be based on the available facts and their own experience. It is not helpful for a lawyer to fill their client with false hope. Even if the truth is hard to hear, when dealing with a criminal lawyer honesty is always the best policy.
Communication is key
If you’re hiring a criminal lawyer, you’re likely under a great deal of stress. You want someone who is available to you, who answers your calls and returns your emails. If your prospective lawyer is flaky from the first meeting, you may want to consider going with another option. You don’t want a situation where your lawyer screens your calls when you have an important question about your case.
The phone works both ways
You want your lawyer to be honest with you, but it is important for you to be honest in return. Tell your lawyer all of the facts, even if it is difficult to do so. Your lawyer cannot adequately represent you if they don’t have all the information. In fact, if you neglect to tell them something crucial, it may just embarrass you both later down the line.
Understand who the client is
If you’re hiring a lawyer on the behalf of a child, spouse, or parent, you must understand that you are not the lawyer’s client – even if you are footing the bill. Lawyers are bound by solicitor-client privilege and are obligated not to disclose any conversations which take place between them and their client. Responsible lawyers take this obligation very seriously, and it would be wildly inappropriate for someone to pressure them not to.