Being convicted of a criminal offence can be one of the most stressful experiences people go through in their lives. A strong and reliable lawyer can therefore be a valuable asset in guiding you through the process and looking out for your interests. Regardless of whether you’re innocent or guilty of any crime, it is also important that you are not taken advantage of, and are aware of all of your options. In most countries, including Canada, it is in fact your legal right to an attorney if facing criminal charges. Here are some things to consider when choosing a criminal defense lawyer.
Their Communication Skills
Despite what TV might suggest, the vast majority of criminal defense cases do not reach trial. The generally accepted figure of crimes tried is around 5%. That being said, if your case does come to that, your lawyer’s communicative abilities are likely going to be crucial. The best trial lawyers are persuasive and are able to express your case clearly to a jury. Communication is also a crucial skill for lawyers outside of a trial setting. Different court appearances, like arraignments or hearings, will require your lawyer to also be able to present your case well in front of the judge. It is also required for settlements and sentencing negotiations. Most reputable criminal defense firms have easily accessible reviews of their services online, so you can do some research into the skills of any potential lawyers you could hire.
Ultimately, the main trait you should look for in defense lawyers, other than their communication skills, is their knowledge of the area of law relevant to you. An expert lawyer can correctly advise you on the best course of action to take with your case, and will help you form the strongest overall defense possible. Identifying quality lawyers is generally a straightforward process, as reliable firms will usually publicly advertise their qualifications and expertise, if they have them.
It’s also important to choose a firm with a specific specialization in the law that is applicable to you. It is general good advice to pick lawyers who are based in your province as well, since they will likely have the best understanding of their laws. Pringle Chivers Sparks Teskey, for example, have specific expertise of criminal law in Alberta.
It’s impossible to deny that good criminal defenses can cost a lot of money. And while you can always choose to use a public defender, they often have a lot of cases to work on, and may not be able to give yours sufficient attention. Opting for cheaper lawyers can often cause more harm than good in the long run, too. Another thing to consider regarding costs is how your lawyers charge. Hourly or up-front costs can be expensive, but at least you will have a clear view of what you will be expected to pay. On the other hand, try to avoid firms which include extensive hidden fees and charges. If you find that the law firm you’re dealing with is not very forthcoming about their fee structure, you probably don’t want to hire them.