Criminal Law FAQ
What if the Police Just Want to Talk to Me?
In some cases, the police will attempt to interview people before any charges are laid. They may say they want to get “your side of the story” or tell you that this is “your opportunity” to explain what happened.
If you are charged or believe that you may be charged, it is critical for you to consult with a criminal lawyer as soon as possible. There is absolutely nothing to be gained by talking to the police or providing them with any information before consulting with counsel.
You always have a Constitutional right to remain silent. Choosing to exercise this right so that you can speak with counsel cannot be held against you later. No matter what the police say, there will be plenty of opportunity to explain your version of the story. In some cases, early consultation with a lawyer can safely open the lines of communication with the police and avoid charges being laid. However, submitting to an interview or giving any form of statement to the police before receiving legal advice can be fatal to your case. While the police may seem friendly or even appear to be on “your side,” their questions are always designed to gather evidence. They are trained to extract information from people and if you go into an interview unprepared, you may inadvertently give them the evidence that they need to charge you.
If you consult with a lawyer before speaking with the police, you can receive confidential advice that is designed to protect your best interests. We can explain the legal risks you are facing and help you put together a game plan to best navigate the situation. Members of our firm are familiar with all police interrogation techniques and have been trained in one of the most widely used methods. We are able to provide insight into the “tricks” the police will try to play in order to protect your interests and your life.
How Do I Choose a Lawyer?
The most important factor in choosing a lawyer is finding someone that you feel comfortable with. You should have confidence in their abilities and trust that they are putting your best interests before anyone else. Your lawyer should be able to explain what steps they are taking in your case and why. While your lawyer will handle the day-to-day conduct of your matter, you should be consulted and give instructions on all major decisions.
What Services do we offer?
Our firm can handle all of the steps involved in the criminal law process. We provide advice in the investigatory (or pre-charge stage) and handle bail hearings, trials, sentencing and appeals. We also practice in some related areas of law (such as extradition and civil forfeiture).
Once we are retained, we will handle all aspects of your criminal case. We will gather the information necessary to defend you and work with you to put together a strategy to get you the best outcome possible. We will handle all communications with the Crown and police and speak on your behalf in Court.
We will craft a trial strategy designed specifically for your situation and we have a number of experts and other professionals we regularly utilize to build the strongest defence possible. Where necessary, we can refer you to lawyers in other areas (i.e. civil litigation, family law, immigration) and work with those lawyers to ensure you receive the best legal advice and representation possible.
How Much do you Charge?
Our initial consultation is always free. Thereafter, we will discuss payment options that best suit your particular matter.
Should I Just Plead Guilty and Get it Over With?
If you are facing criminal charges, it’s normal to want to put the situation behind you as soon as possible. You may think that the Crown has a strong case against you and there is no way to defend it.
Pleading guilty before consulting with counsel can have serious (and often disastrous) consequences. You may be giving up defences you did not even know you had or receive a higher sentence than you may have otherwise. A guilty plea usually means you will have a criminal record and this can impact things like travel, insurance and employment. If you are not a Canadian citizen, a guilty plea may result in deportation with no right of appeal.
Even if you think guilty plea may be the best option for you, there is no downside to consulting a lawyer prior to entering a plea. There are many legal issues involved in the sentencing process and this can be extremely difficult to navigate on your own. While the Courts sometimes offer a “duty counsel” service to assist with guilty pleas, this is only a cursory service available on the day of the plea. Consulting with and retaining a lawyer to assist you beforehand can help you to achieve the best outcome possible for your situation.