It is often best to hire a lawyer at the earliest possible stage. Getting a lawyer involved early on may impact (a) whether a criminal charge is laid at all; (b) the nature and likelihood of your release pending the completion of the case; (c) the quantity and quality of evidence collected by the police; (d) the number and quality of defences available to you.
Hiring a Lawyer When The Police Call
At the investigative stage (this is typically when the police contact you), your lawyer might be able to persuade the officer that it is inappropriate to lay a criminal charge. If a charge is going to be laid, your lawyer might be able to negotiate your release from the police station. If you are being held for a bail hearing, your lawyer may be able to negotiate a recommendation for release with reasonable conditions from the officer. At this stage, your lawyer can also help you understand and assert your rights and avoid becoming the star prosecution witness against yourself.
Hiring a Lawyer For Your Bail Hearing
Few, if any, procedures in the criminal process will have as great an impact as the bail hearing. This process determines whether or not the accused person will be released or detained. The outcome of this process will have a significant impact on the remainder of the case including the likelihood of pleading guilty, the lawyer’s ability to prepare the case for trial, the relative bargaining positions of the parties, the sentence following a conviction, and the client’s ability to retain a lawyer of his or her choice.
Hiring a lawyer to represent you at the bail hearing can maximize the chances of getting released under reasonable conditions. Through an analysis of the alleged facts, interviews of the accused and proposed sureties, formation of a release plan and, an understanding of the law, the lawyer can present a compelling argument to the court for a reasonable release.
Hiring a Lawyer To Defend Against The Charge
Following the bail hearing or release by the police, you will be given a first court date to attend on the charge. Hiring a lawyer before this first date may have a significant impact on potential defences that develop in the course of the case. Persistence, diligence, and thoroughness on the part of the lawyer help to ensure that no potential defence falls to the wayside. Your lawyer can take steps before you even get to court to help plant the seeds of several potential defence.
Finding The Right Lawyer
A criminal charge is a serious matter that impacts a person’s life whether or not there is a finding of guilt. The consequences that can flow from a finding of guilt include but are not limited to a criminal record, a fine, a jail sentence, immigration problems, problems with employment, civil liability. The importance of selecting the right lawyer cannot be over-stressed.
Factors to consider when choosing a lawyer may include the following:
1. Does the lawyer practice criminal defence law exclusively?
2. Has the lawyer taken the time to listen carefully?
3. Has the lawyer discussed my criminal charge with me?
4. Has the lawyer discussed the workings of the criminal justice system?
5. Has the lawyer discussed what he hopes to do for me and my case?
6. Has the lawyer explained his fees to me?
7. Am I comfortable with this lawyer?
8. Has this lawyer demonstrated a genuine interest in my case?
9. Is this lawyer easily accessible?
10. Is this lawyer someone I believe will keep me informed every step of the way?