If you’ve been charged with a criminal offence, you’ve got enough to worry about. A criminal conviction shows up on your record and can make it hard for you to find work or travel in the future.
Knowing how to choose a criminal lawyer is vital for getting results you’re happy with. The last thing you want is to be sitting in jail, regretting who you chose to represent you.
Before hiring anyone, make a list of potential lawyers and set up appointments. Most offer free consultations so take advantage of them. When you meet with potential candidates, prepare for the interview and be wary of any that make guarantees or tell you they can win your case without even looking at it.
With that, here’s what you should look for to help you choose the right criminal lawyer.
Hire a Specialist
First off. It should go without saying that you need to hire a criminal defence lawyer. Your cousin may be a great personal injury lawyer, but criminal charges are a whole different ballgame. Not saying they won’t be able to figure it out, but your case is not the time for them to learn when your future is at stake.
But not only do you need a criminal lawyer, you’ll rest a lot easier if you hire a lawyer who specializes in your type of case. Some lawyers focus primarily on DUI cases, others on theft and fraud and others on drug cases. Each type of charge comes with specific issues that are regularly argued during a trial and decisions from higher courts that deal with those issues. Ideally, you want a lawyer who makes those arguments daily and knows those cases like the back of their hand.
Check out their website and search their name for cases they’ve done in the past like yours. And don’t forget to check them out on the Law Society of Upper Canada page to make sure their license is in good standing and they haven’t had any disciplinary issues in the past.
Clear, Transparent Pricing
If you find a specialist, that lawyer should confidently give you a ballpark figure of the total cost of your case. Then, they should explain how they bill in simple terms and give you an idea of what you can expect regarding the steps along the way and the cost for each.
This can be hard to judge initially, but don’t be afraid to ask how often you will get updates about your case. You shouldn’t be calling your lawyer every day, but if you haven’t heard from them in a while and you call them, they should return your call promptly.
Judge a Book By its Cover
When you get to a lawyer’s office, take a look around. Is it an organized, professional office, or are there files lying around and second-hand furniture? On the flip side, is it a huge, expensive firm that’s going to treat you like a number and tries to turn over as many cases as possible? Also, consider your lawyer’s appearance, manner and communication skills and ask how confident you would feel having them represent you in court.