Should I Spend Money Hiring A Criminal Lawyer Or Can I Just Represent Myself?
Our criminal law system in Canada is complex. With the intricacies of the criminal code and the various precedent setting cases, it is not an easy system to navigate on one’s own. There is an old saying that “The man who represents himself in court has a fool for a client”. There may be defences available to your case, that only a skilled criminal lawyer will likely come across. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms looks simple on its face, but it’s application in criminal proceedings can be very difficult to understand and apply correctly. If you have been criminally charged, you should contact an experienced criminal lawyer to review your case.
WHAT IF I JUST WANT TO PLEAD GUILTY—DO I STILL NEED A LAWYER?
When discussing a guilty plea with our clients, it’s important to consider certain questions. The consultation involving a guilty plea, we discuss whether pleading guilty is the right choice considering the strengths and weaknesses of the Crown Attorney’s case. We also discuss the likelihood of success if the matter was to go to trial, or any prospects of resolution. We canvass any other options available in the circumstances, and if pleading is the appropriate decision, it is important to understand the sentencing hearing that will follow and what that may look like. If you plead guilty, you are giving up your right to a trial, and you should know what the consequences of your plea will likely be. It’s important to recognize that the presiding Justice will have the last say regardless of any joint positions.
If and when you plead guilty, the judge will likely go through a plea comprehension to ensure that you understand the decision you are making by entering a plea of guilt. The Assistant Crown Attorney will then read in the facts of your case and will put forward their position on the record. Sometimes defense counsel and the crown will have a joint position to recommend to the judge, other times their positions may be quite different. It is the duty of your lawyer, to act in your best interests getting you the best deal possible in the circumstances. The judge will then make a determination as to what they feel the appropriate sentence should be, based on the law and the submissions of the two parties. It is important to recognize that we do whatever possible to avoid a criminal record for our clients, and in some cases a guilty plea is a last resort.
CONTACT AN EXPERIENCED LAWYER FOR A FREE CONSULTATION
While our criminal justice system in Canada allows for an accused to represent themselves in court, it is probably a bad idea to do so. Often times our office is able to convince the Crown to withdraw a matter altogether without going to trial; something that will likely not happen with a self-represented client. Throughout the process, and at trial, effective and skilled advocacy are paramount in this adversarial process. If you or a loved one has been criminally charged, contact our law office to provide insight and explain your options that you may not know exist. We will inform you of the potential consequences of certain decisions, and provide you with a thorough understanding of the process.