Facing criminal charges and going to trial can be an extremely stressful and intimidating experience. The stakes are high, and the trial outcome could heavily impact your future. Thorough preparation and understanding precisely what to expect throughout the legal process is essential to achieving the best possible result in your case.
If you are facing an upcoming criminal trial in Ontario, having the correct information and working ahead will help you navigate the complex justice system, collaborate effectively with your lawyer, and clearly present your most vigorous defence. While each case is unique, there are some general best practices to follow that can optimize your readiness.
Implementing key preparation strategies and tips will enable you to tackle your criminal trial confidently and clearly. Here are 8 essential things you should do to prepare for a criminal trial in Ontario.
1. Do Your Legal Research
Thoroughly research the criminal code charges against you, the related sentencing guidelines, and any relevant case law precedents. Understanding the specifics of the law, defences, and potential penalties related to your charges will help you and your legal team build the strongest case possible. You can find resources online, but your lawyer will be your best guide on the law.
2 . Choose the Right Lawyer
Hiring the right criminal defence lawyer is the most important step. Look for an experienced trial lawyer familiar with your charges who will fight tirelessly for you in court. Interview several options and ask about their credentials, win-loss record, trial experience, communication style, fees, and overall approach. This is a very personal decision, so go with the lawyer you feel most confident in.
3. Cooperate Fully with Your Lawyer
Be honest and thorough in providing your lawyer with all relevant information about your case. Hold nothing back – they need a complete picture to build your defence, even if details seem unflattering or unimportant. Sign any needed releases for them to access documents and records. Respond to their calls and emails promptly to resolve issues quickly. Trust their expertise and follow their advice every step of the way.
4 . Understand the Trial Process
Ask your lawyer to walk you through what to expect at each stage of the trial process – from jury selection to cross-examination to closing arguments. Understanding how things will unfold removes some anxiety and helps you play an active role. If allowed, sit in on trial at the courthouse to familiarize yourself with the setting, procedures, and environment.
5. Organize Your Evidence
Gather, copy and organize any evidence or records that may help your case – photos, videos, medical reports, financial statements, texts, receipts, etc. Create files, timelines or charts to present key information clearly. Bring evidence copies and exhibits to each meeting with your lawyer to analyze together. Thorough evidence will allow you to counter the Crown’s claims effectively.
6. Line Up Your Witnesses
Provide your lawyer with a list of possible witnesses, contact information, and details on their potential testimony. They will determine if a witness’s account is relevant and credible enough to call at trial. Have your witnesses meet with your lawyer beforehand to discuss proper courtroom conduct. Reliable witness testimony could make or break your case.
7. Practice Your Testimony
If you plan to testify in your own defence, extensively practice with your lawyer. They will grill you with the tough questions the crown is sure to ask. Refine your account so it is concise, chronological, consistent and sincere. Mastering your testimony is vital to seeming poised and persuasive on the stand.
8. Take Care of Yourself
Make self-care a priority in the weeks and months leading up to the trial. Exercise regularly, eat healthy foods, get enough sleep, and lean on your support system. Avoid alcohol and drugs, as they can compromise your mental state and defence. You need to be fully sharp and focused, so take steps to reduce stress.
Preparing thoroughly for your criminal trial will help you put your best case forward, understand what is happening, and feel more in control. With an experienced criminal defence lawyer guiding you, thoughtful preparation will demonstrate you are taking the charges seriously. Contact Manbir Sodhi Law at (905) 457-2546 for trusted legal representation for a criminal trial in the Brampton region. Their skilled team will vigorously defend your rights at trial.