2. Think about hiring a lawyer

You should think about hiring a lawyer if you haven’t already. A lawyer can help you understand your rights and decide whether to set a date.

Lawyers are trained to understand the rules of and criminal procedure. A lawyer will be able to understand:

  • the Crown’s case against you, including the strength of the evidence against you
  • any defences you may have
  • any Charter violations that occurred during the investigation or your

A lawyer will usually ask you to pay money known as a before they start working for you. If you qualify for a Legal Aid certificate, you could hire a lawyer who accepts certificates instead.

If you can’t afford a lawyer, contact Legal Aid Ontario to find out what other services you might be eligible for.

Legal Aid pays lawyers at the courthouse, known as , to give free legal advice to people who can’t afford a lawyer. Duty counsel are not able to represent you at trial, but they can conduct the Crown pre-trial for you and offer you legal advice at the courthouse.

You can hire a paralegal to represent you if you have been charged with a that has a maximum of:

  • 6 months in jail,
  • a $5,000 fine, or
  • both

Disclosure review

Unless you’re sure that you want to set a trial date, get your lawyer to review all of your before you make any decisions.

Resolving your case

At the Crown pre-trial, you will discuss ways to resolve your case and whether you can have . These issues can also be discussed at a judicial pre-trial. Even if you weren’t screened for diversion earlier, a lawyer can help convince the Crown you’re eligible. A lawyer can also help negotiate the best position for you.

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