You made a mistake that ultimately lead to you being charged with a criminal offence. While it may be tempting to represent yourself in the matter, a criminal conviction could mean jail time and a permanent record that affects your ability to get a job and travel. As a result, you need to hire a criminal lawyer.
To help you prepare for your upcoming legal battle, below are five different aspects of a criminal defence case:
Unless you have been criminally charged before, you probably do not know much about the criminal court system. Therefore, if you try to defend yourself, you may experience delays and make mistakes that could greatly influence the outcome in a negative way.
A criminal lawyer knows criminal law and court procedures that will pertain to your case. He/she will be an advocate for you, giving you the peace of mind to endure the process. Your lawyer will use their expertise to review your case and build a case that give you the best chance of receiving a judgement that you are satisfied with.
Towards the start of the court process, you will be given documentation by the Crown Attorney laying out their case against you. Before having to enter a plea, you will have the opportunity to review it and decide whether you should plead guilty and move to the sentencing phase or plead not guilty and take the matter to trial.
Criminal lawyers are extremely helpful with pleas. If you wish to plead guilty, they are able to meet with the Crown Attorney in an attempt to make a plea deal that will allow you to receive a more favourable sentence. If you wish to plead not guilty, they are able to lay out your case at trial.
When the circumstances of a case are vague, investigations need to occur to ensure facts are made clear and there is no uncertainty. If the case appears straightforward, further investigation may need to happen to strengthen your case.
Hiring a criminal lawyer will provide you with someone who can look at all facts of your case and decide the best way to proceed. If there are any question marks about the circumstances, the lawyer can arrange for more investigation. Lawyers usually have connections such as professional investigators that can review police reports, witness, statements, and crime scenes to determine whether additional information will be helpful in your case.
Many cases are settled through plea deals arranged by lawyers and Crown Attorneys. However, when an agreement cannot be reached, the matter can be taken to trial to be settled by a judge or jury.
Criminal lawyers are helpful during trials because you probably have no experience with them. A lawyer can represent your interest and present your case in a way that convince a judge or jury or your innocence. He/she knows what questions to ask witnesses called to testify to help your case and in the event you are called to the stand your lawyer can coach you on how to give the most effective testimony possible.
If you plead or are found guilty, you will appear before a judge who will pass down sentencing. Depending on the nature of your offence, penalties can include reprimands, fines, probation, and jail time. As a result, you need someone on your side to attempt to get you the most favourable sentence possible.
During a sentencing hearing, your lawyer can provide mitigating factors to the judge. These are reasons why you should receive a lighter sentence such as the lack of a previous criminal record, family obligations, steady employment, contributions to the community, and any reparations made to the victim. Doing so will give you the best chance of walking out of the courtroom with a sentence you are satisfied with.