2. Hire a lawyer
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Ontario Court of Justice
Legal Aid Ontario (LAO)
How can I get my criminal charges dropped?
2. Hire a lawyer
It's best to hire a lawyer to talk with the Crown for you. A lawyer is more likely to convince the Crown to drop some or all of your charges. If you're thinking about pleading guilty to your charges, a lawyer can try to negotiate the best deal possible.
If you have evidence that you think will help your case, talk to your lawyer or duty counsel. Always get legal advice before you give evidence to the Crown. The Crown can use any evidence that you give them against you.
You can hire a paralegal to represent you if you have been charged with a summary offence that has a maximum sentence of:
- 2 years in jail,
- $5,000 fine, or
Normally, a lawyer will 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 services you're eligible for.
Legal Aid also pays lawyers at the courthouse, known as duty counsel, to give free legal advice to people who can't afford a lawyer. They usually can't represent you at your trial, but they may be able to:
- help you with a Crown pre-trial or a judicial pre-trial that happens in court
- give you information and advice
- help you find out if you qualify for Legal Aid
Inside the courtroom, they can:
- give information to the court for you
- adjourn your case each time you appear in court without a lawyer
- give the court updates about what's going on with your case when they adjourn it
Duty counsel can help you find out if you qualify for Legal Aid, and what services and programs are available in your area. If you qualify financially, the Legal Aid certificate program can cover the cost of hiring a Legal Aid Ontario lawyer or a private defence lawyer to represent you.
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Reviewed: November 20, 2017