It is everybody’s worst fear to have a brush with the law. Whether it is a simple traffic violation or a difficult sexual assault case, finding the right criminal defense lawyer is key. Not all lawyers are made the same though. Criminal lawyers have different specializations, experience, and knowledge. The key to selecting the right Toronto criminal lawyer for you is to make sure they fit your needs.
Step 1: Have Consultation
The first step to hiring anyone is to have an interview. Most criminal defense lawyers in Toronto offer free consultations. Take advantage of this and meet with the prospectus attorney. Not only is this a good chance to ask some of your questions, but you’ll also get a chance to see how well you would work together. Having a good working relationship with your attorney will impact the case.
Make sure you come into a consultation fully prepared so that you do not waste the opportunity. Have all case-related paperwork ready as well as a list of questions you have. It is also recommended that people seek out a criminal attorney as soon as possible after being arrested. Even before the first court appearance, there is work that needs to be done. The sooner a lawyer can get working on a case the better for the client.
Step 2: Find Out Practice Areas
All lawyers don’t practice in the same areas. Most tend to specialize in a few areas. Some law firms focus more on substance abuse cases like DUIs while others focus more on difficult homicide cases. It is important to find a criminal lawyer that had experience working on cases similar to yours. During your consultation with a lawyer, ask what areas they practice in and how many cases similar to yours they have handled.
Step 3: Determine Experience
There are many different factors to determining how experienced a Toronto criminal lawyer is. The first, of course, is how long they’ve been practicing law, and especially criminal law. Keep in mind though, that quantity does not always mean quality. As we said above, it is also important to find a criminal defense lawyer that has experience with cases similar to yours.
Knowledge about the local court system is also vital. Criminal lawyers that have worked in an area for a while tend to know the prosecutors and judges. This means they know which judges will be sympathetic towards a situation or which prosecutors are tough. They say information is power, and that is certainly true when it comes to legal cases.
Step 4: Ask Whom You’ll Be Working With
Consultations and meetings are important because you get a chance to meet the person that will be defending you. It’s important you find someone that you trust. Listen to your gut on this one. Many law firms don’t have just one person working on a case though. There might be one or two people, or even a whole team, who work on your case. Ask who specifically will be working on your case and make a point to meet each of them personally. People are often disappointed when the person they meet with doesn’t end up being the one on their case.
Step 5: Inquire About Fees
Money is never a fun or comfortable topic to discuss, but unfortunately, it is a necessary evil. To avoid future disputes, ask how much you can be expecting to pay in lawyers fees. Typically, attorneys either charge by the hour or a flat rate. With hourly charges, you will be billed for the actual time spent on your case, including both time spent in and out of court. With flat rate fees, you’ll pay a set amount for the case. Make sure you know exactly what is covered with this flat rate though.
Lawyers pretty understanding when it comes to price. Most understand that legal troubles are not something people have budgeted for. Ask about the expected total amount, any additional costs that may come up, what sort of payment they accept (check, credit card, cash etc.) and if they accept payment plans.
There is no simple formula to picking the right Toronto criminal lawyer. The more information one has, the more confident they can feel in their decision though. Do not be afraid to ask questions and don’t feel as if you have to hire a firm just because you met with them. It is important you find a lawyer that has experience with cases like yours and that you trust to handle your case to the best of their ability. Criminal cases can be life-changing, so make sure you trust your gut and pick the right criminal attorney for you.
If you have any questions or are interested in hiring one of our criminal lawyers in Toronto please contact us.