Beware lawyers who…

Now you're charged, what's next? Should I Represent Myself? Terms You Should Know Beware of lawyers who... Police Questioning Summary conviction or indictable? Effect of a criminal record

Discuss your case with friends, family or other clients.

A lawyer has a duty of confidentiality. He or she should never reveal any information about a client to anyone, unless authorized by the client or required by law. The obligation continues indefinitely, even after the lawyer has stopped acting for the client.

The obligation extends to information a lawyer receives in a consultation before the lawyer has been retained. A lawyer should not even disclose having been consulted or retained by a particular person unless required by the nature of the case.

Plea-bargain or permit you to plead guilty before conducting the level of investigation expected in preparation for trial.

A lawyer should first determine if a guilty plea is warranted. This determination depends, among other things, on whether the Crown can prove the charge by admissible evidence.

Fail to obtain a copy of the information early on in your case.

A lawyer should obtain a copy of the information (charging document) before trial or preliminary hearing to understand the parameters of your charge and scan for defects that could benefit your case.

Fail to keep you informed of developments in the case and reasons for crucial decisions.

Book two trials in different courts on the same day.

By scheduling two cases for trial in different courts on a given date, a defence counsel risks leaving one client without a lawyer. In addition the court, the Crown and witnesses may be inconvenienced. If intentional, “double-booking” may be contempt of court.

Guarantee you’ll be acquitted or receive a particular sentence.

While a lawyer can assess your trial prospects, the verdict is determined only by the trier of fact, that is, the judge or jury.

Your sentence is determined by the judge. While your lawyer and the Crown Attorney may agree on an appropriate sentence and present it to the court as a joint submission, the judge may decide it is too light. If this occurs, the judge may “jump” the joint submission and impose a more severe punishment.

Your lawyer and Crown counsel may be able to meet with a judge in chambers prior to plea to determine whether the judge will go along with a proposed plea bargain. Or a judge may indicate in a pretrial that he or she will go along with a certain sentence.