2. Think about hiring a lawyer

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Criminal Law - Going to criminal court
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What is a judicial pre-trial?
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2. Think about hiring a lawyer

You should think about hiring a lawyer if you haven't already. A lawyer can help you understand your rights and decide whether to set a trial date.

Lawyers are trained to understand the rules of evidence and criminal procedure. A lawyer will be able to understand:

  • the Crown's case against you, including the strength of the evidence against you
  • any defences you may have
  • any Charter violations that occurred during the investigation or your arrest

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.

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

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

Disclosure review

Unless you're sure that you want to set a trial date, get your lawyer to review all of your disclosure before you make any decisions.

Resolving your case

At the Crown pre-trial, you will discuss ways to resolve your case and whether you can have diversion. These issues can also be discussed at a judicial pre-trial. Even if you weren't screened for diversion earlier, a lawyer can help convince the Crown you're eligible. A lawyer can also help negotiate the best resolution position for you.

Reviewed: November 20, 2017

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