Being arrested and charged with a crime can be a traumatic and stressful experience, which is usually the goal of the person arresting you. Police stations, holding cells, prison transports and courtrooms are all very intimidating, especially for someone who hasn’t been through the system before.
If you’ve been charged with a crime and aren’t sure what to do or how your case will proceed, the best advice you’ll get is to prioritize getting the best lawyer you can over everything else in your life. The more serious the charge against you., the higher a priority it becomes. But do not take any criminal charge lightly. A summary conviction of a relatively minor theft offence can haunt you for years, disqualifying you from getting the jobs you want and possibly interfering with your ability to travel.
Know Your Budget
Which leads to the next issue: what is your budget, and how flexible is it? If the answer is little-to-none, contact Legal-Aid, find out if you qualify and apply immediately. Until you have a lawyer, you’ll have to attend your court dates and possibly ask for adjournments until you have a lawyer sorted.
Otherwise, when figuring out your budget, also decide how much you’re willing to spend and potentially go into debt for to fight these charges. While there are no guarantees, lawyers are like everyone else, you get what you pay for, and some of the expensive and well-known lawyers are worth every penny.
They live and breathe the law, know it inside out, find creative, unique arguments, and sell those arguments to the toughest judges. If money is no object, look for famous cases like yours where the lawyer made the news for getting the charges dismissed against their client.
Do Your Homework
Your next task is to search for lawyers in your area who have experience successfully fighting your cases. Keep this in mind as you search; just because a lawyer’s website lists a bunch of different charges they say they are experts in, doesn’t make it true. They might not have made the news, but almost every case is available on case law reporting sites. If a lawyer has won cases like yours, they’ll be posted on their website. Look for how many they’ve won and at the last date of their most recent win. Hopefully, it was fairly recent.
- How long have you been fighting cases like mine?
- How were you able to win the ones you did?
- Were there any similarities between them?
- How would you handle mine?
- How do you bill?
When it comes to billing, your lawyer should be able to give you an accurate estimate since they’ve handled similar cases.
The organization and cleanliness of a lawyer’s office can tell you a lot about how well they will stay on top of your case. If an office is busy and disorganized, this may be a sign that they care more about taking on as many cases as they can than they do about making sure each case is thoroughly researched and prepared for.
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