If you are charged with a crime, having an experienced criminal defence lawyer on your case gives you the best chance of a desirable outcome. The desirable outcome may be a dismissal of charges, an acquittal or a reduced sentence. A defence lawyer is optional; however, their training, expertise and experience, make them best placed to represent you in a scenario where a prison term or hefty fines are likely consequences.
But what is it that a criminal defence lawyer does in a criminal case?
The role of a criminal defence lawyer
The primary role of a criminal defence lawyer is to defend individuals, companies or entities accused of violating provincial or federal laws.
The functions of a criminal defence lawyer are varied and span the pre-trial, trial and post-trial stages in the criminal process. Among other things, a criminal defence lawyer will do the following:
Provide guidance and legal advice
Defence lawyers provide guidance and legal advice at all stages of the criminal process. It is best to obtain a lawyer from the moment you’ve been called in for questioning by the police regarding a crime. A defence lawyer will guide you during interrogation to help you avoid self-incrimination. Depending on the circumstances, hiring a criminal defence lawyer from the start could help you avoid criminal charges. If charges are laid, a criminal defence lawyer might be able to get the charges dismissed.
A criminal defence lawyer is responsible for investigating the allegations levelled against their client. They may interview witnesses concerning their testimony, examine evidence and question police regarding protocols used during their investigation. Criminal defence lawyers also often work with private investigators to uncover evidence that supports their client’s innocence. They will use the evidence they uncover to find grounds for a dismissal of the charges or to secure a not-guilty verdict.
Negotiate plea bargains
Criminal cases are often resolved through plea bargaining. It is the defence lawyer’s job to advise a client on the prospects of a case, whether pleading guilty is the most viable option and the implications of entering such a plea. Defence lawyers negotiate with the prosecution for plea deals and ensure that if any deal exists, it is prepared in the interest of the client.
Prepare for trial
One of the keys to a successful trial is preparation. Prior to the trial, the defence lawyer conducts research, gathers information, analyzes and interprets evidence and prepares the most convincing defence strategy for the case.
Provide legal representation at trial
The defence lawyer’s role at a trial is to convincingly present arguments and evidence in favour of the defendant, cross-examine witnesses and nullify the prosecution’s arguments. The aim is to convince the judge or jury that the prosecution has not established guilt.
Advocate at sentencing
There are several directions sentencing may take after a guilty verdict has been rendered—imprisonment, fines, probation or community service, to name a few. Criminal defence lawyers advocate for clients and seek the best sentencing program available. Advocacy could, for instance, mean the difference between a significant fine and community service or imprisonment and probation.
Make appeals and attend hearings
Defendants have the right to appeal a conviction or a sentence if they believe that they were wrongly convicted or if a sentence was too severe. Defence lawyers handle appeals on behalf of clients. They may cite legal or procedural errors that may have occurred during a trial and move for a new trial or advocate for a lesser sentence at the appeal hearing.
The types of cases criminal defence lawyers handle
Criminal defence lawyers handle a wide range of criminal cases, including:
- White-collar crimes
- Drug offences
- Driving under the influence (DUI)
- Domestic assault
- Sexual assaults
- Money laundering
- Firearms offences
Criminal defence lawyer in Vancouver
Criminal cases are unpredictable and stressful, and there is much at stake. Having an experienced criminal defence lawyer on your side can greatly improve your odds of a successful outcome.
If you need a criminal defence lawyer in Vancouver, contact the law office of Tom Doust. Tom Doust is a criminal defence lawyer with over 20 years of experience successfully defending clients in all types of criminal matters. This experience makes him well-placed to secure a successful outcome in your case.