If you have been charged with a criminal offence, chances are you’ll need to hire a criminal defence lawyer to defend you. There is nothing wrong with setting up interviews with a couple of different lawyers. If you’ve never been charged with a crime before, you might not know what questions to ask.
When you go to meet with the lawyers, be prepared. Bring with you whatever paperwork you’ve received from the police or at the courthouse. These documents will typically include: your bail paperwork; any documents showing your next court date; and perhaps some or all of the police report or other evidence the police / Prosecutor will intend to use against you.
Most likely, you will want to know how much it will cost to hire the lawyer to defend you. Most likely, the lawyer won’t be able to give you a precise fee quote at the first meeting. Many lawyers will ask you to pay an initial retainer (perhaps in the range of $2000 – $5000); and will later be able to quote a final fee once they know how complicated and time consuming your defence will be. Some lawyers might provide you with an estimate of a range of fees in that first.
Many criminal defence lawyers will not bill by an hourly rate; but will instead quote you a flat fee for representing you. Make sure you understand the fee agreement and what is included.
When interviewing criminal defence lawyers, you might want to ask:
If you are not a Canadian citizen, make sure you share this information with the lawyers, as there may be immigration consequences following convictions for some offences.
After interviewing 2 or 3 criminal defence lawyers, you will need to decide and hire one of them. Do not simply gravitate towards the one with the lowest fees if you’re worried about money; do not gravitate towards the most expensive, thinking ‘bigger is better’… instead, consider their levels of experience; consider how well they explained the criminal process to you and their strategies for representing you; and most importantly, consider with whom you felt the most comfortable and confident in handling your defence.