You have been charged with a criminal offence. Now what do you do? The criminal justice system can be intimidating and confusing. You are already anxious as a result of the charges. You need someone to help you through the system. You need someone who knows the criminal justice system and your individual rights. You need a criminal defence lawyer.
Lawyer's have spent many years in university to gain the necessary knowledge to act as your lawyer. They have written exams for the Law Society and learned at the hands of more senior lawyer's to prove their capabilities. They continue to take courses and gain experience and knowledge so that they can best represent you in the system and in court. Some people think they can represent themselves. Do not jeopardize your criminal record and your future. Here in Dufferin County you have the choice of many capable and experienced counsel. We invite you to view their individual profiles and call for help.
The criminal justice system is designed to ensure that you know what you are being charged with and what the nature of the allegations are against you. You will be given a date and a time to attend for your first appearance in court. You do not have to enter any plea on your first attendance. It is not like you see on TV. The court will expect you to be on time and dressed appropriately. You will likely be given a package of what is called your disclosure. Your disclosure is the witness statements, police notes and any documentation that the Crown will be relying on to prosecute your case. You are entitled to review this material with a lawyer. The Crown in an effort to ensure that you are dealt with in a timely manner will provide this material to you at the earliest opportunity.
The Crown Attorney's Office endeavors to be fair and reasonable in dealing with people who come before the court. They are not advocates for the "victim". The Crown Attorney's office are prosecuting the case against you and act on behalf of the Crown. That is to say they act on behalf of the people. The rule of law serves as a code of conduct that we all must abide by to reside in a democratic country. If someone alleges that you have broken a rule of law, you are entitled to defend yourself against such allegation. The Crown is not out to convict anyone, they act for the community to seek justice. That being said, they have resources that you do not on your own.
You are guaranteed the right to speak to a lawyer when you are charged. It is recognized that the criminal justice system is a complicated place and you need specialized help to navigate your way through the system. Follow that good advice and retain a lawyer to assist you. Your lawyer will review the material provided to you and ask you a number of questions. Some of those questions will be about your individual rights. In Canada we have the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that sets out what our individual rights entail, such as the right not to be arbitrarily detained or searched and the right to speak with a lawyer. Other questions may be about the facts of the incident itself. Your lawyer will review the law to determine if you have a valid defence to the charges against you, determine if in fact you have committed any offence, and ensure that your Charter Right's have been protected.
In Ontario you have two methods of retaining a lawyer. You will either retain a lawyer privately, out of your own funds, or you may qualify for legal aid. The Ontario Legal Aid Plan was instituted to ensure that all citizens have proper legal representation when faced with a criminal charge. If you believe you may qualify for legal aid you may contact our local Orangeville office at (519) 941-4745 and attend at the office location on 210 Broadway - Unit 105 during regular business hours. Alternatively, you may call 1-800-668-8258 from Monday to Friday between 8 am and 5 pm to have your application taken over the phone.
You will find that all of the lawyer's in Dufferin County will treat you in a professional and courteous manner. They are here to assist you. They have gained the proper knowledge and experience to ensure that your right's are protected, you are treated fairly and are properly defended. You cannot defend yourself. Rely on the quality and experience of the lawyers of the Dufferin County Law Association.