2. Hire a lawyer

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What is a Crown pre-trial?
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2. Hire a lawyer

It's best to hire a lawyer to talk with the Crown for you. You don’t want to accidentally say something during a pre-trial that the Crown can later use against you if you decide to plead not guilty and have a trial.

And, a lawyer is more likely to convince the Crown to drop some or all of your charges. If you're thinking about pleading guilty, a lawyer can help to negotiate the best deal possible.

A lawyer will usually ask you to pay money known as a retainer before they start working for you. If you qualify for a Legal Aid certificate, you could hire a lawyer who accepts certificates instead.

If you can't afford a lawyer, contact Legal Aid Ontario to find out what other services you might be eligible for.

Legal Aid pays lawyers at the courthouse, known as duty counsel, to give free legal advice to people who can't afford a lawyer. Duty counsel are not able to represent you at trial, but they can conduct the Crown pre-trial for you and offer you legal advice at the courthouse. Duty counsel can explain what you should talk about and what you should not talk about with the Crown during a pre-trial.

You can hire a paralegal to represent you at a Crown pre-trial if you have been charged with a summary offence that has a maximum sentence of:

  • 6 months in jail,
  • $5,000 fine, or
  • both

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Law Society of Ontario
Reviewed: January 10, 2019

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