What Does a Criminal Lawyer Do?
If you’ve been charged with a criminal offence, or are under investigation, schedule a meeting with us now. We are criminal trial lawyers. We will represent you when no one believes you. We will represent you from beginning to end.
Even before you’ve been charged, the knowledge, expertise and skill of a criminal lawyer is invaluable. Before you’ve been charged with a crime (during the investigation) a lawyer can advise you on your rights. When do you have to speak to police, and when don’t you? When is a search of your body or property legal and when is it illegal?
When you’ve been charged with a criminal offence, a lawyer does the following:
Reviews your file and case law on bail, negotiates with the Crown for your release. Speaks with your friends or family members to create a plan for your release. If unsuccessful, spends hours preparing factual and legal arguments for your release, and argues on your behalf at a bail hearing.
Once bail is dealt with, the Crown will provide you all the evidence they have gathered against you in your case. This can include dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of documents containing forensic evidence, witness statements, pictures, search warrants, police notes, and surveillance footage. A criminal lawyer spends an incredible amount of time meticulously reviewing each document to better understand the case the Crown has against you. A criminal lawyer uses their knowledge and expertise to find holes and technicalities in the evidence for your benefit. Furthermore, a criminal lawyer investigates the evidence to see if your constitutional rights were violated.
Negotiations with the Prosecutor
Every person charged with an offence is required to meet with the Crown and discuss the nature of the case and possible resolution. This means the Crown offers the accused person their brief opinion of the case, and what type of punishment they would be seeking on a guilty plea or if convicted at trial. A criminal lawyer will know your file from back to front before the negotiation. They will discuss with you the strength of your case, realistic goals and expectations, and what a good offer from the Crown is. A criminal lawyer will interview you to better understand your background, and create an argument to the Crown as to why the charges should be withdrawn, and why a compelling resolution offer should be made. This includes providing the Crown with medical evidence and opinion, factual argument about addictions or upbringing, a lack of a criminal record, and whatever is available to present your story.
Appearing in Court
When you have been charged with an offence, you’re required to appear in court every couple of weeks to update the court on the progress of the case. This includes advising the court whether the matter is going to trial, or resolving, and whether there has been a meeting with the Crown, or evidence has not been provided. The prosecutor will frequently argue in court in front of a judge that a matter must be expedited, or that any delay is the accused person’s fault. A criminal lawyer will appear on your behalf in court and speak to the Crown and Judge. The criminal lawyer will negotiate and put forth arguments protecting your constitutional rights and ensuring the process is as fair as possible for you.
If your matter has not resolved, then the trial process begins. There is a pre-trial phase where motions and applications must be submitted. A criminal lawyer will extensively review your file and find technicalities or breaches of rights in the evidence and will file a large document called an “application record” on your behalf. This will include a statement of the argument, the argument, and the relief sought. This requires an incredible amount of time to research the law and draft a compelling and coherent legal argument. A criminal lawyer will know all the procedural requirements for filing a motion. Most importantly, a criminal lawyer will have the confidence and quick thinking to argue your motion in front of the Crown and Judge. The criminal lawyer will have also read the Crown’s argument and prepared a counter argument.
A trial is a rigorous process. There are hundreds of procedural requirements and evidence rules a person charged with a crime must know. What is admissible in evidence and what isn’t? What is the procedure for disputing the admissibility of evidence? What is the case law that supports or doesn’t support the argument? What questions can you and can you not ask a witness? There are hundreds of considerations that go into running a trial. A criminal lawyer will have created a strategy and approach to present the facts and law in your favour.
Even if convicted, you may still avoid a criminal record. A criminal lawyer will spend an incredible amount of time learning the law on sentencing, identifying the aggravating and mitigating factors in your case, negotiate with the Crown on a joint position, and, if necessary, appear in court on your behalf and argue the facts and the law to obtain a lighter sentence. A lawyer needs to read dozens of cases to find the most applicable and suitable facts and law to your case. Furthermore, a criminal lawyer will need to be creative, and often present unique and new legal arguments on your behalf.