If you are facing criminal charges in Ontario, you may be wondering how to find and choose the best criminal defense lawyer for your case.
A criminal defense lawyer is a legal professional who specializes in defending people who are accused of committing crimes.
A criminal defense lawyer can help you understand the nature and consequences of the charges against you, advise you on your legal rights and options, negotiate with the prosecution, prepare your case for trial, and represent you in court.
Hiring a competent and experienced criminal defense lawyer can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case and the impact on your life.
In this article, we will provide you with some useful information on how to find and choose the best criminal defense lawyer in Ontario.
Types of Criminal Charges in Ontario
In Ontario, there are two types of criminal charges: summary conviction offences and indictable offences.
Summary conviction offences are less serious offences that are usually tried in the Ontario Court of Justice.
The maximum penalty for a summary conviction offence is six months in jail and/or a $5,000 fine.
Some examples of summary conviction offences are theft under $5,000, mischief, assault, and impaired driving.
Indictable offences are more serious offences that can be tried in either the Ontario Court of Justice or the Superior Court of Justice.
The maximum penalty for an indictable offence varies depending on the nature and severity of the offence, but it can range from two years to life imprisonment.
Some examples of indictable offences are murder, robbery, sexual assault, fraud over $5,000, and drug trafficking.
Some offences can be either summary conviction or indictable, depending on the circumstances and the discretion of the Crown prosecutor.
These offences are called hybrid offences.
The Crown prosecutor will decide whether to proceed by summary conviction or by indictment based on factors such as the evidence, the public interest, and the potential sentence.
How to Find a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Ontario
There are several ways to find a criminal defense lawyer in Ontario, such as:
- Referrals: You can ask for referrals from people you know who have hired or worked with a criminal defense lawyer before. This can be a good way to find a trustworthy and reputable lawyer who has proven results. However, you should also do your own research and verify the credentials and reputation of the referred lawyer before hiring them.
- Online directories: You can use online directories such as FindLaw, Super Lawyers, or Justia to search for criminal defense lawyers in Ontario by location, practice area, ratings, reviews, and other criteria. These directories can provide you with detailed profiles of each lawyer, including their contact information, education, experience, awards, publications, and more. However, you should also be careful of any advertisements or sponsored listings that may not reflect the quality or suitability of the lawyer for your case.
- Bar associations: You can contact the local or provincial bar associations such as the Law Society of Ontario or the Criminal Lawyers’ Association to get referrals or recommendations for criminal defense lawyers in Ontario. These associations can provide you with a list of qualified and licensed lawyers who meet certain standards of ethics and professionalism. However, you should also be aware that these associations do not endorse or guarantee any specific lawyer or their services.
How to Choose a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Ontario
Once you have found some potential candidates for your criminal defense lawyer in Ontario, you should do some further research and evaluation before making your final decision. Here are some steps you can take to choose the best criminal defense lawyer for your case:
- Consultation: You should schedule a consultation with each of the lawyers you are considering to discuss your case and get a sense of their personality, style, and approach. Most lawyers offer free initial consultations where they can review your case details, explain your rights and options, answer your questions, and give you an estimate of their fees and expenses. You should use this opportunity to assess how comfortable and confident you feel with each lawyer and how well they communicate with you.
- Comparison: You should compare the qualifications, experience, expertise, communication, availability, and fees of each of the lawyers you are considering. You should look for a lawyer who has the most relevant and successful experience in handling cases like yours, who has the most knowledge and skills in the area of law that applies to your case, who communicates clearly and respectfully with you and others, who is available and responsive to your needs, and who charges reasonable and transparent fees that fit your budget.
- Decision: You should make your final decision based on your personal preference and judgment. You should choose a lawyer who you trust, respect, and feel comfortable with. You should also choose a lawyer who you believe will represent your best interests and fight for your rights. You should avoid choosing a lawyer based on pressure, promises, or guarantees that sound too good to be true. You should also avoid choosing a lawyer who is rude, dishonest, or unprofessional.
Finding the best criminal defense lawyer in Ontario can be a daunting task, but it is also a crucial one. A criminal defense lawyer can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case and the consequences you face.