If you are facing criminal charges, it is in your interest to seek legal counsel. When meeting with a lawyer for the first time, there a few things you can do to help achieve the best possible outcome and help your lawyer handle your case in the most thorough and efficient manner.
1. Bring a Copy of the Charging Document
If you have been charged with an offence, you should have been provided with a copy of the Information. Bring this document to the lawyer for your consultation as it details what you were charged with, when, where, and any particulars that are available at the time (i.e., the specific circumstances or facts that show why you were charged). The specific Criminal Code provisions will be laid out. The Information is perhaps the most important thing to take to your lawyer so a defense can be prepared.
It is vital to the prosecution’s success that Information is accurate, and that the charges laid against you actually correspond to the circumstances. So, it is also important for the lawyer to see the Information in the event that there is any fatal error, such as missing your name or the name of the issuing officer, failing to list the offence, or missing the location or date. Without a date on the document, it would be impossible to know if you were provided with a trial within a reasonable time.
In an Ontario decision, the Crown brought an inappropriate charge against the accused, withdrew he charge, then charged him with another offence that was again inappropriate in the circumstances. All of this resulted in undue delay. The charges were ultimately stayed on the basis that the accused’s right to a trial in a reasonable time, pursuant to section 11b of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, had been violated.
2. Bring Any Relevant Handwritten Notes and Photographs (if possible)
If you have been charged with an offence, it is important to write down any details you recall surrounding the circumstances of your arrest, what the police officer said to you, and what actions the police took upon arresting you. For example, did they search your vehicle or person? Did they inform you of your rights? Did they give you the opportunity to call a lawyer at the time of your arrest? Appropriate police conduct can, in some cases, turn out to be just as important as what you did or did not do. If there is any physical evidence that is relevant to your case, take photographs if possible (this may be difficult in an arrest situation).
In an Ontario decision regarding an impaired driving charge, the court highlighted the importance of the accused making and retaining notes when charged. In that decision, although the defendant had made notes at the time of his arrest, he failed to retain them and bring them to trial. Therefore, the notes could not be used as a memory aid to help the accused. Had the notes been available, the accused’s story may have had more credence or weight. In the decision, the justice of the peace wrote: “The accused’s notes themselves, had they been available might have bolstered the version of events of the accused or may have weakened what he recounted at trial.” Either way, notes can be used to strengthen an accused’s recollection of the facts at trial.
3. Bring All Relevant Paperwork
If you have any paperwork that is relevant to your case, your lawyer will want to see it. Think hard about what may be relevant to your case, so that you can bring any relevant documentation to your lawyer at the outset, which will help expedite your matter. For example, if you have been charged with theft of personal property, but actually have a receipt for the item that you allegedly stole, this will be useful. If it is alleged that you were at a certain place at a certain time, but have phone records, text messages or social media posts that prove otherwise, these can be useful. Police do not always get it right.
4. Bring Your Listening Skills
As important as it is for your lawyer to listen to you, ask you all the important questions, and ensure that s/he obtains all of the relevant facts, it is equally important for you to listen to your lawyer. Being charged with an offence is incredibly stressful and it is normal to wish that a lawyer could make the problem disappear. However, what is a realistic solution in your circumstances will differ depending on your specific circumstances.
Your lawyer may or may not believe that there are grounds to bring a challenge under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, depending on how the police handled your case. Your lawyer may recommend that you plead guilty to a lesser charge if you want to because there is compelling evidence against you, so that you may get a lesser penalty or sentence. It is important to hear the lawyer out and let him or her explain your options and the potential risks of each.
5. Be Prepared to Explain Your Story to Your Lawyer
Your lawyer can best help you when you are able to present a clear and detailed account of what happened. Come ready to discuss, in full disclosure, the events leading up to the charges that were laid against you. If you have some understanding as to why you were arrested, be prepared to share this. Be ready to provide the names and addresses of any witnesses that have information that may help your case as well. If you are uncertain about whether a witness will testify, your lawyer can arrange a subpoena to ensure the witness attends the trial.
When you enter into a relationship with a lawyer, the lawyer is legally obligated not to share this information, as it is protected under solicitor-client privilege. If the event that your lawyer breaks this privilege (which should never happen), the information that you shared cannot be used against you.
When You Need to Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Orangeville, Call Richard A. Allman
Be sure to deal with an experienced criminal lawyer if you have been charged with a criminal offence. Richard A. Allman can be your bail hearing lawyer in Orangeville or take your case at any stage. He will work diligently to try achieving a more favorable outcome for you. He provides sound legal advice and a strong legal defense so you have fair legal representation. Call today at 519-940-0415 to discuss your case with Richard A. Allman.