Being found guilty of a criminal offence can carry serious consequences. Fines, jail time, property forfeiture – the list goes on. The best defence against a criminal charge is a criminal lawyer. 

But how do you find one?

A good criminal defence lawyer has both court experience and litigation success. That means they’ve taken on a lot of cases and they’ve won a lot of cases. They’ll also have expertise in the type of criminal defence you need, and a passion for justice and serving their clients.

Lawyers with those credentials aren’t always easy to find. This article will help. 

Methods for finding a criminal lawyer

In the modern era, there are basically three ways of finding a criminal lawyer. The first is advertising – think TV, radio, or bus bench ads. This isn’t the best method, as it doesn’t give you any information about the lawyer.

The second is through search engines. Search engines are an excellent way of finding a lawyer because they give you the chance to look at the lawyer’s website and read about their experience and philosophy. We highly encourage you to read through our page, and the page of any other lawyer you’re considering hiring – get as much information as you can before you call.

The third method might be the best one – word-of-mouth. Ask friends, family, and other people you trust about their experience with criminal lawyers. When one of them has hired a lawyer successfully, especially if it was for a similar criminal charge to the one you’re facing, you’ll know you’ll be able to trust that lawyer to represent you. 

Questions to ask a criminal lawyer before you hire them

How many years of experience do you have in criminal defence?

The more experience a lawyer has in criminal defence, the better. In the same vein, the more cases like yours a criminal lawyer has taken on, the more knowledge and experience they’ll have to defend you with.

How many of those years were you specialized in criminal defence of serious charges?

You want an attorney with a proven track record of winning courtroom battles and reducing charges – especially if you’re facing a serious charge.

What is your track record for reduced or dropped charges?

Going to trial is expensive – and the costs can go beyond monetary value, as sentences can be much more severe after trials. It’s often better to get charges reduced and avoid trial – or better yet, to get charges dropped altogether. 

What percentage of your past cases have gone to trial?

You don’t want a lawyer who has never gone to trial. You don’t want a lawyer who always goes to trial, either. Talk to your lawyer about how many of their cases go to trial, so as to better understand their defence strategy.

What is your ratio of guilty to not guilty verdicts?

Unless your criminal lawyer has only taken very few cases to trial, they won’t have a 100% not guilty ratio – and you don’t want a lawyer who has taken so few cases to trial. A higher percentage of not guilty verdicts shows you that the lawyer has had a lot of success at several trials.

How many cases like mine have you handled?

There have been some dramatic changes to Canadian criminal law recently, from the legalization of cannabis to police no longer needing a specific reason to perform a breathalyzer test.

You need a lawyer with experience handling cases like yours, and that experience shouldn’t be from years ago, either. Ask your lawyer not only how many cases like yours they’ve handled, but how many cases like yours they’ve handled in the last 3 years. 

What key concerns do you have for my specific situation?

As we’ll discuss in the next section, your lawyer will ask you questions, too. Once those questions have been answered, you should ask them if they have concerns that will affect the case. This will give you some insight into the strategies they might employ, as well as any reservations they may have.

What do you think the outcome of this case will be?

Never trust a lawyer who guarantees success in a case – no one has a 100% success rate. Your lawyer should be able to tell you what some of their expected outcomes are, however. Do they expect charges to be reduced or dropped? Do they expect to go to trial? While they may not know for certain, a good lawyer will be able to give you some sense of what the probable outcomes will be. 

Who will be handling my case, and how will we communicate?

Great lawyers don’t work alone – they have a full team of legal experts working with them to handle your case. Ask your lawyer who will be on your legal team, and talk to them about the best ways to communicate. 

What are the potential costs?

The more complex your case is, the more you’ll have to pay. Additionally, cases that go to trial will cost more than cases that are settled out of court. Your lawyer should be able to give you a solid estimate of costs, taking into account various scenarios. 

Be wary of lawyers who quote you substantially less than other lawyers – it may be a sign that they don’t understand the potential costs of your case.

Your lawyer will ask you questions, too

When you’re consulting with a prospective lawyer, you’re protected by lawyer-client confidentiality – even if you don’t end up choosing them for your criminal defence. As such, they’ll ask you questions regarding your situation and the circumstances leading up to and following your arrest.

Answer these questions as honestly as possible – you’re protected. By answering these questions, your prospective lawyer will be able to answer your questions much more accurately.

With over a decade of experience in criminal law, when you need a criminal lawyer now, Matt Gould is here for you. Visit our website to learn more about how he can defend you against criminal charges.