“Richard is a great person and a great lawyer”

“I was really surprised — I didn’t think my case was going to turn out as well as it did. Richard is a great person and a great lawyer. He knows what he is talking about and I would definitely recommend him as a lawyer for other people. The service at the firm was great. All the staff really helped me.”

-William Barr, Ottawa

July 2011

What you should know about Ontario criminal lawyer advertising – part two

 

One of our recent articles talked about what to watch out for in lawyer advertising.  This article will look at the other side to inform you about the “right way” to advertise and how you might find good, honest criminal lawyer advertising.  While you want to avoid using directory sites, referral firms and referral sites, you can still find good quality information on the internet; you just need to know how to find it!

When searching online, go directly to the lawyer’s website.  Look specifically for case results, client testimonials, and other kinds of helpful information in order to find out if that firm or lawyer is right for you.  It is also a good idea to take a look at the lawyer’s education, training and background.  Look for things like when they were admitted to the bar and where they have previously worked.  Ideally you should hire a lawyer with significant experience (at least ten years practicing criminal law).

If the lawyer has posted any articles, videos or other free resources on their website, take a look at them.  You don’t have to read everything in great detail, but it is worth spending a few minutes looking at what they have written or spoken about.  Remember that you will be spending a lot of time with your criminal lawyer so you want to hire someone that you can see yourself working with.

In addition to searching the internet for your criminal lawyer, ask friends, family, co-workers if they know any good lawyers that they have had a positive experience with.  Make sure that the lawyers they suggest work in the legal area that is relevant to your charges.

One way to know that a lawyer may be good is to assess the quality of their website content.  If a lawyer has put detailed information about themselves on a website and has included useful information, they are likely a reputable and serious criminal lawyer.   Also, educational content and free resources are also signs of a good lawyer.

If you are looking for an Ontario criminal lawyer to represent you, feel free to contact the defence attorneys at Auger Hollingsworth for a free consultation.

What you should know about Ontario criminal lawyer advertising – part one

Most lawyers advertise their legal services in one way or another.  Most use internet websites as a way of advertising and while this can be a great resource for individuals looking for a criminal lawyer, you have to be careful.  If you are looking for an Ontario criminal lawyer, you have likely been browsing various websites in search of the right lawyer for you.  You should be extra careful when you come across a lawyer directory website that claims it will help you find the right lawyer for your case.  Many of these sites look convincing and professional, but there are a few things you should be aware of.

Most, if not all, of the lawyer directory websites are privately run and are created in order to make a profit.  The lawyers whose names are included in the directory have paid to have their name there.  This does not indicate anything about their experience or expertise as a criminal lawyer.  Directory sites operate much like an online phone book directory.  The lawyers who pay more will have larger, more noticeable advertisements.  Many of these sites have a search engine where you can narrow your search based on certain keywords.  Keep in mind that the names that come up are the lawyers who have paid for their listing to appear based on those search terms.  While this is not all necessarily a bad thing, you should be aware of how the system works if you are going to use it.  Be aware that just because a lawyer’s listing is first in the list or is larger than others, it does not mean that they are the best lawyer for you.

Another kind of website you may come across is a referral site.  These sites ask you for detailed information about yourself and your case in order to put you in touch with a lawyer who matches the information you gave.  This system may sound like it would be accurate and find you the right lawyer but like directory sites, these sites aim to make money.  Lawyers pay to have their names referred to potential clients.  Again, this does not mean that you will get a lousy lawyer, but it also does not guarantee that you will find the best lawyer to represent you.

A third kind of website is a referral firm.  Of all of the kinds of websites that claim to help you find a lawyer, you should be most wary of this one.  On these sites, lawyers advertise legal services without intending to or being capable of providing those services to clients.  When an individual shows interest in the services being offered, the lawyer or referral firm sends the information to another lawyer or firm who can handle your case.  This way, you end up being in contact with a different lawyer than you thought.  Sometimes these referral sites charge people for their referral service, even though individuals don’t know that they are going to be referred in the first place.  Clearly these kinds of sites should be avoided because you just don’t know who will end up speaking with or who will represent you.

As you can see, not all lawyer advertising is good or tells you very much about the lawyers and their expertise and the services they provide.  Although these sites may be appealing and may seem to make the search for a criminal lawyer easier, it is best to avoid them.  You are the only person who can decide which lawyer is right for you.  Don’t leave that decision up to someone else.

 

What to Look for in an Ontario Criminal Lawyer: Commitment to the Law

While there are a number of Ontario criminal lawyers offering their services to potential clients, it can be difficult to find a criminal defence lawyer who is passionate about the law.  You want to hire a lawyer who is passionate about criminal law and who is continually studying and learning more about the law.  You want to look for a lawyer who spends time staying up to date on the evolution of the law and whose knowledge of criminal law is current.  If a lawyer does not spend time reading important law journals and studying the law they are likely not passionate about their work and are probably not going to be the best lawyer to represent you.

One way to assess a lawyer’s commitment to the law is to find out if they have made any contributions to legal publications or if they have written their own books or booklets about the law.  The best lawyers are those who have put time into researching developments in the law and in educating the general public.  If a lawyer has been involved in publishing legal information, they are likely invested in their work and are passionate about criminal law.  Additionally, a lawyer committed to helping people who have been charged with a criminal offence, should provide a variety of information on their website aimed at informing the public.  Things like “frequently asked questions” sections on their website or regular blog posts and online articles can indicate a lawyer’s commitment to the law.

A lawyer’s commitment to the law can also be seen in their involvement with the media.  If a lawyer has been asked by the media, whether on the radio, television or newspaper, to comment about a legal issue it is a sign that they are a good lawyer.  If a criminal defence lawyer feels confident enough to speak knowledgeably about a particular legal issue on the radio or on television, they are likely going to have the confidence necessary to handle your case.  It means that they are informed on current legal issues and that they are comfortable speaking about the law in a variety of ways, not only in the courtroom, but to the general public as well.

Here are a few questions you might want to ask a lawyer when trying to decide whether to hire them or not:

1. Have you written any recent books or articles?

2. What legal journals do you read regularly?

3. What kind of free information do you offer to the public and potential clients?

4. Have you ever been involved in commenting on legal issues in the media?

If you are looking to hire an Ontario criminal defence lawyer to work on your case, make sure that you consider their level of commitment to the law and their passion about the field of criminal law in particular.  The criminal defence lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth are committed to providing excellent legal representation for their clients.  Contact them for a free consultation to discuss your case.

How to take a lawyer’s personality into account when choosing an Ontario criminal defence lawyer

While a lawyer’s personality may not seem to be an important thing to consider when choosing an Ontario criminal defence lawyer for your case, it is important to take a few things about their personality into account.  Of course, a lawyer’s personality is not the first or the most important thing for you to consider, but it will likely help you to make the right decision about who you want representing you.  There are a few personality traits you may want to think about when deciding on a criminal defence lawyer.

One personality trait you may want to look at is aggression.  While you want your lawyer to be very committed to your case and able to aggressively defend the charges against you, you don’t want a lawyer who is overly confrontational or who turns their aggression towards you.  Think about the level of aggression you want in your lawyer and the kind of personality that would suit you and your case.  Aggression can be good or bad so make sure that you choose a lawyer who suits the level of aggression that you are comfortable with.

Secondly, you may want to take into account a lawyer’s intuitiveness and their ability to understand their clients and relate to them.  You also want to try to assess a lawyer’s ability to understand the other players involved in the legal system, such as Crown attorneys, police officers and judges.  An intuitive lawyer will be good at relating to all of these individuals and understanding how the legal system works.

One very important personality trait in a criminal defence lawyer is confidence.  You want your lawyer to be able to confidently defend the charges against you.  You don’t want a lawyer who cannot react well on-the-spot or one who is not confident about their knowledge of the law and of your case.

One last personality trait that you want to take into consideration is practicality.  While it may be nice to hear your lawyer tell you how easy it will be to win your case or that you don’t even need to think about what will happen if things don’t go as planned, it is not a good sign if your lawyer tells you these things.  You need a lawyer who will work very hard to successfully defend you, but you also want them to be practical and realistic about your case.  It is best if you have a lawyer who can quickly judge a situation and decide upon the appropriate course of action to take.

There are many things to take into consideration when choosing the right Ontario criminal defence lawyer for your case and personality is one of them.  Make sure that you are choosing the lawyer who suits you and your particular case.  If you want more information about choosing a criminal defence lawyer, contact the lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth.  They would be happy to discuss your case with you.

Two driving charges withdrawn at Provinicial Offences Court: Tony’s Case

CHARGES:

Careless driving contrary to Section 130 of the Provincial Highway Traffic Act

Driving a motor vehicle without a license contrary to Section 32 (1) of Provincial Highway Traffic Act

BACKGROUND:

A car stopped at a red light on a Saturday night in Ottawa was rear-ended by a car that my client, Tony, was driving. After colliding with the vehicle, Tony dislodged his car from the other car and fled the scene. The driver and passengers of the car that had been hit were not injured and were able to provide Tony’s license plate number to police. Police arrested Tony at his home after he could not provide any reasonable excuse for leaving the scene of an accident.

STRATEGY AND RESULTS:

After I met with the Crown, it was agreed that these charges would be dropped at the Provincial Offences Court in Ottawa.

Fraud and theft charges withdrawn: Stephanie’s Case

CHARGES:

Theft not exceeding $5000/Shoplifting contrary to Section 344(b) of the Criminal Code of Canada

Fraud not exceeding $5000 contrary to Section 380(1) (b) of Criminal Code of Canada

BACKGROUND:

Stephanie was observed by security guards at Walmart trying to return 3 woman’s jackets that she had not purchased. The officers at the store had suspected Stephanie of fraudulent returns for several months. After having the return refused, Stephanie began shopping in the store. When leaving the store, she used a self-checkout machine. After she had left the building, the Walmart employee apprehended Stephanie and found that the items on her receipt did not match the items she was leaving with. The police were called and Stephanie was arrested, charged and released on an appearance notice.

STRATEGY AND RESULTS:

After my negotiations with the Crown, it was agreed that all charges against Stephanie would be withdrawn. The charges were withdrawn in Ottawa court.

Three drug related charges dropped: Benjamin’s Case

CHARGES:

Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking (Marijuana) contrary to Section 5 (2) of Controlled Drugs and Substances Act

Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking (Cocaine) contrary to Section 5 (2) of Controlled Drugs and Substances Act

Possession of Property Obtained by Crime contrary to Section 354 (1) (a) of Criminal Code of Canada

BACKGROUND:

Benjamin was observed by police making hand to hand transactions with two other males in Smiths Falls. Police found marijuana and cocaine, a digital scale, and other drug related paraphernalia belonging to Benjamin. Shortly thereafter, he was arrested and charged.

STRATEGY AND RESULTS:

After discussions, the Crown agreed to drop all charges against Benjamin. The charges were withdrawn in Perth Court.

Over 80 charge dismissed: Natalie’s Case

CHARGES:

Operating a motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol concentration that exceeds eighty milligrams of alcohol in one hundred millilitres of blood contrary to Section 253 (1) (b) of the Criminal Code of Canada.

BACKGROUND: As she was driving away from an area where a loud party as taking place, Natalie was stopped by police. The officer who pulled her over conducted a road-side breath test, which Natalie failed. She was then taken by the officer to the police detachment for another breath test.  After failing the second breath test, she was charged with Over 80.

Read the Summary of Police Allegations

GOALS: It is well known that the consequences of an Over 80 conviction in Ontario are very serious. Those convicted often pay heavy fines, have their license suspended and are burdened with a criminal record. In this case, we set a goal to have Natalie avoid a criminal record. Natalie and I hoped we could have her charge dismissed.

STRATEGY: I applied to have much of the evidence in this case excluded because the methods used to obtain it were in violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms sections 7, 8, 9, 10(b), 11(d) and 24(2). We filed a Charter application making the request. I felt like there were several problems with Natalie’s arrest:

  • The officer who pulled Natalie over lacked the required reasonable grounds to stop and arrest her.
  • Natalie was not given reasonable opportunity to choose her lawyer and contact him or her at the time of her arrest.
  • The breath test conducted on the roadside was not done in a timely manner and the officer involved did not have a “Warrant to Search” which would authorize him to conduct the test.

RESULTS: The Judge in this case agreed with several of the arguments we made, and all charges against our client were dismissed at trial.

Read the Judge’s Decision

Three charges dismissed in impaired driving incident: Shannon’s Case

CHARGES:

Impaired operation of a motor vehicle contrary to Section 253 (1) (a) of the Criminal Code of Canada.

Operating a motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol concentration that exceeds eighty milligrams of alcohol in one hundred millilitres of blood contrary to Section 253 (1) (b) of the Criminal Code of Canada:

Possession of 30 grams or less of cannabis (marijuana) contrary to Section 4(1) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act:

BACKGROUND: Police reported to the scene of an accident in North Grenville and found Shannon sitting near to a minivan that had collided with a hydro pole. One of the officers on the scene smelled alcohol in the van and conducted a breath test on Shannon, which led to a reading of ‘F’ or fail.  Shannon was arrested and brought to the police detachment where she failed another breath test.

Before being released from the station, police officers found a small amount of marijuana in Shannon’s purse. A charge of possession of marijuana was added to her file.

Read the Summary of Police Allegations

GOALS: Shannon was a very young woman at the time of her charge and so we made it a priority to have her avoid a criminal record. In addition, we did not want her to have her license suspended.

STRATEGY: I believed that the police officers questioning Shannon violated her rights under Sections 7, 8, 9, 10(a), 10(b), 11(d), and 24(2) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I argued that there were several problems with the arrest and processing of Shannon:

  • There was a lack of proof regarding the times of the arrests and tests, and it was unclear whether they were conducted within the proper time frame.
  • There was not sufficient evidence to prove that that Shannon was actually the driver in control of the van.
  • Similarly, there was nothing that proved that the marijuana found in Shannon’s bag actually belonged to her, or that she actually knew it was there.

RESULTS: All the charges in this case were dismissed.

Click here to Read the Judge’s Decision