What You Can Do When Charged with a Criminal Offence (General)
If you are reading this, you have already taken the first step toward defending your case. Because every individual case is unique and fact-specific, it is first and foremost important to get legal advice from an Alberta criminal defence lawyer on what your next steps should be.
There are, however, a few general things you should do as soon as possible:
Document What Happened: Write down in detail, and preferably in chronological order, what happened on the relevant day(s) in question. There should typically be three main aspects to this:
- The circumstances leading up to the incident;
- What actually took place during the incident; and
- What has happened since the incident.
Ensure you use maps and diagrams where applicable and put a date on your notes.
Have Witnesses Document What Happened: Ask any witnesses who have any bearing on the case to write down what they saw from their perspective. This could include, for example, a friend who witnessed the event and can corroborate your version of events.
Keep a Journal: Keep an ongoing journal of any dealings associated with your case so you can update your lawyer. Like the original documentation of what happened, this will be most useful if documented in chronological order.
Store All Documents: It is important that you collect and maintain all documents issued to you by the police, the courts, or anyone else associated with your case. This could include, for example, the release documents you received at the police station.
Take and Store Relevant Photographs: Take pictures of anything relevant to the case, whether it is pictures of the scene, specific items, or yourself. For example, if you were involved in an altercation, and you are charged with assault, having documented photographs of your injuries may help to establish or support your claim that you were acting in self-defence.
Collect Personal Information/Documents: Start thinking about collecting information and documentation that casts you in a positive light. This could include any accomplishments in school, work, and your community.
Although at first this list may seem overwhelming, remember that collecting this information will help you. A lot of the stress that comes from being charged with a criminal offence is from putting off the steps outlined on this page. You can relieve much of this stress by doing the initial groundwork, and by retaining a competent lawyer to help you through the process.
What Can a Criminal Defence Lawyer Do to Help?
Having compiled the relevant information, your lawyer will be able to better assist you, as they will have a more thorough understanding of your side of the story. This allows them to fully canvass possible defences and strategies.
Once you retain one of our dedicated Alberta criminal defence lawyers, we will attend court on your behalf, and will deal with the judge, Crown Prosecutor, and police as required. It is important to note that the first court date is generally a procedural appearance. That is, nothing substantive happens that day. There may be several such appearances. We will attend as many as necessary to obtain and assess all the relevant information before taking the next step.
Importantly, we will obtain the police information (disclosure) package which outlines the case and evidence against you. We will review the information and discuss the case with you, and the Crown Prosecutor. From there, we will determine what to do next. One of the immediate benefits of having us as your lawyers is that you will not have to go to court or do anything further until we inform you otherwise. This can be a huge stress reliever while navigating the criminal justice system.
While we are attending proceedings for you and considering the best next steps for your case, it is critical that we always have your most current contact information. We cannot stress enough the importance of having clear lines of communication. Always contact our office to advise us of changes of your address, email, or phone number. If you plan to take any extended trips which may make communication difficult, please let us know well in advance.
Court Process Stages
Navigating the criminal justice system can be scary and confusing. We have done our best to break down the various key components involved in the process. Please see the pages listed below for more information on the various stages involved in the criminal justice system process:
If you have been charged with a criminal offence, please contact our closest Alberta office (Edmonton or Calgary) as soon as possible. The earlier you can contact us and provide us with the relevant information pertaining to your case, the sooner we can begin canvassing our options to arrive at the best possible solution for you.