If you find yourself in trouble with the law, you need to hire an excellent criminal defense attorney to represent you. But unless you have an existing relationship with a lawyer in Vancouver, you might wonder how, exactly, you go about finding one.
Where is the best place to find a good criminal lawyer?
So, where is the best place to find a lawyer?
In the past, you’d likely have to rely on word-of-mouth recommendations from family and friends or search around in local directories. Actually, both approaches still work well today.
If your friend, family member or colleague used a criminal defence lawyer in the past – and was happy with their service – then you likely will be too
If you know someone who has used a criminal defense lawyer in your province – and they were pleased with the service – then that’s a good place to start.
As for local directories, they aren’t widely used anymore, but that’s because we have the internet. Try searching in Google for ‘criminal lawyer Vancouver’. You’ll come up with thousands of hits.
Take a look through the results and narrow down your options to lawyers who:
1. Criminal Lawyers act in your local area
You’ll want a lawyer who can appear in court on your behalf, so you need someone who acts for clients in your local area. If you live in Metro Vancouver, for example, you might focus your search on lawyers in Vancouver BC.
They know local court rules and have local courtroom experience.
2. They specialize in criminal defence law
There are lots of different types of law. You don’t want a divorce lawyer trying to defend your DUI – they just won’t have the knowledge and experience needed to do a good job.
Read through a law firm’s website to check if they deal exclusively in criminal defense law. That way, you can be sure they’re experts at what they do, rather than being a ‘jack of all trades, master of none’.
3. Check if a criminal defense lawyer has proven experience
Even if you find a criminal lawyer, how do you know if they’re any good? Take a look at the firm’s recent case studies to see what kind of cases they’ve been dealing with, and what the outcomes were.
If the firm has helped someone in a similar position to yours, then chances are they can help you too.
4. Choose a lawyer listed on the Law Society website
There are lots of rogue websites offering legal services that are actually fraudsters trying to get your personal details. For an added layer of security, check that the criminal defense lawyers named on a firm’s website can be found in the Law Society of British Columbia’s Lawyer Directory. If so, you can be sure that they have the right credentials to represent you.
The best criminal defence lawyers are also recognised through industry awards. For example, Joel Whysall from our team was “recommended” in the 2021 Doyles Guide as a leading criminal lawyer. This accolade demonstrates his expertise and abilities in criminal, regulatory and white-collar crime matters.
5. Good defence lawyers offer a free initial consultation
When you’ve found a criminal lawyer in Vancouver who matches the above criteria, check whether they offer a free initial consultation – as the lawyers here at Mickelson & Whysall Law Corporation do.
This gives you the chance to speak to a lawyer in person, without having to worry about legal fees. You can find out how they can help you and how much it will cost going forward.
Importantly, you can also get a sense of whether or not you trust the lawyers you’re dealing with. You have to be confident that you have chosen the right lawyer in Vancouver for you!
You do not necessarily have to like your defence lawyer, but you must feel comfortable enough to co-operate with them.
We have some more answers to your questions about finding the best defence lawyers in your neighbourhood.
What do criminal defense lawyers do in Canada?
The first thing a criminal defense lawyer does is to provide expert legal advice.
When you’re accused of an offence, it can be hard to know how best to proceed.
Should you plead guilty? Or not guilty?
If you plead guilty, are there mitigating circumstances that might persuade the court to show leniency? If you plead not guilty, what is the best defence to use?
Do you have a technical defence? What evidence should be used? Could you get the charges dropped before the case even goes to court?
A criminal defense lawyer knows what approach will yield the best result.
Next, a criminal defense lawyer represents you throughout the proceedings.
They are your voice in court, they protect your rights, and they support you for the duration of the case.
In practical terms, this means that your lawyer does things like:
- Attends interim court hearings on your behalf so you don’t have to
- Negotiates your bail terms
- Accompanies you to police interviews
- Gathers evidence in support of your case
- Analyzes the Crown’s evidence against you
- Requests that unlawfully obtained evidence are struck out
- Argues your case in court
- Helps you with an appeal
- Requests that your fingerprints and photos are destroyed
Ultimately, your lawyer is there to represent your best interests. This is significant when facing a criminal charge. Without their help, you could face serious consequences, be it jail, a fine, travel restrictions or difficulty securing future employment.
How much does a criminal lawyer cost in BC?
The amount a criminal lawyer charges varies depending on the case. The cost of defending a straightforward DUI will be less than the cost of defending a complex fraud offence at trial.
Three payment methods are typically used by criminal defence attorneys: an hourly rate, flat fees for the case, or legal aid.
Criminal attorneys with five years’ worth of experience may bill for an hourly rate of $300 to $400 or more, while more senior lawyers may bill for an hourly rate of $500 to $750 or more.
Hourly charges will change depending on the lawyer’s reputation, success rate, and experience. Some attorneys charge more because of their success in a particular practice area such as driving under the influence, sexual assault, or growing marijuana. When the quantity of work needed is somewhat predictable, lawyers frequently charge set fees. For instance, fines for driving while intoxicated typically range from $3,000 to $6,000, plus taxes and disbursements.
We appreciate that this answer doesn’t really help you: you’ll want to be sure you can afford a lawyer before going any further. That’s why we typically work on a fixed fee basis. We’ll tell you what our fee is after our initial meeting. We then provide written confirmation of this fee, so you can be certain there won’t be any unknown expenses further down the line.
And remember – our initial meeting with you is completely free. Afterwards, you can decide whether you want to continue with our services.
How do defense attorneys get paid in BC?
Lawyers in Vancouver allow for different forms of payment. At Mickelson & Whysall Law Corporation, we accept cash, cheque, Visa, Mastercard, Interac and e-Transfer.
Are you looking for a criminal lawyer in Vancouver?
If you are facing fraud charges, read our article What Kind of Lawyer Do I Need to Defend a Fraud Case?
For further information or for a free initial consultation, please contact our Vancouver law office.