Innocent until proven guilty: it’s one of the central principles of our justice system, designed to ensure that before a person can be convicted of a crime, they have the opportunity to clear their name in a court of law. 

While the presumption of innocence is one of the fundamental features of the Common Law, enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the truth is that our complicated legal system is not well-understood by most ordinary people. A truly fair trial is impossible if you don’t have a criminal defence lawyer who can argue the case on your behalf. 

Criminal defence lawyers work for you and with you, playing a variety of different roles throughout the process — from bail lawyer to mediator to defender in court. A such, they are an important part of the justice system as a whole, holding the police accountable and making sure that the Crown doesn’t trample your rights.

Whether dealing with arrest warrants in Ontario or domestic assault charges, a criminal lawyer can help you navigate the sometimes-opaque legal system, empowering you to tell your side of the story and ensuring that you have access to the protections guaranteed to you by law. 

If you have been charged with an offence and want effective legal representation, here are the five essential qualities of a great Toronto criminal defence lawyer.

1. Experience

One of the most first and most important things to look for in a criminal lawyer in Toronto is experience. The more experience your lawyer has, the more tools they will be able to bring to your case, and the last thing you want when your future is on the line is a lawyer who is still learning the ropes. 

The best criminal lawyers have a wide range of experience both in their chosen field and in related fields. A criminal lawyer who has also worked as a prosecutor will have added insight into how the legal system works, having worked both for the Crown and for private citizens. A defence lawyer who has appeared in both Provincial and Superior courts will have acquired an invaluable depth of knowledge that can be put to use in your defence. 

Because Toronto criminal cases sometimes involve complex crimes like fraud or possession for the purposes of trafficking that have a national or international angle, a criminal lawyer with proven experience in the different legal systems that exist in Quebec and the United States will be able to apply a wider lens to the problem.    

Jeffrey I. Reisman has been practicing criminal law for twenty years, first as a prosecutor and then as a defence attorney. In that time, he has helped thousands of clients, and appeared in court in Ontario, Quebec, and American Federal Court. With a wealth of knowledge and a track record of getting results, Jeffrey Reisman Law is a firm you can rely on.

2. Credentials

In order to practice law in Ontario, a person must undergo a rigorous credentialling process that involves formal education (a J.D. or LL.B. from an approved law school), multiple exams, and practical experience. 

Though all Ontario criminal lawyers will have these formal credentials, it is also important to make sure that you choose a criminal lawyer who has kept up-to-date with new legislation and legal developments. 

The law is not a static thing, and the federal and provincial governments regularly pass new bills creating or amending the criminal code (the 2018 legalization of cannabis for recreational use being one particularly noteworthy example). And under Ontario’s Common Law system, criminal law is also shaped by previous rulings.  

This is why you should look for a criminal law firm that has a proven track record of abreast of the latest legal developments so they can offer the best possible advice about legal options and mount the strongest possible defence when your day in court finally arrives. 

3. Spectrum of Services

Many criminal lawyers Toronto offers focus on a narrow range of offences, but Jeff Reisman Law offers expertise in a wide range of areas, and can offer a spectrum of services. 

Whether you need help with impaired driving law in Ontario or want an experienced criminal lawyer by your side for a bail hearing, we can help protect your rights. 

4. Transparency

When you’re putting your case in someone’s hands, you need to be sure they will treat you with the honesty and attention you deserve. The relationship between a lawyer and a client is incredibly important, and you should be able to count on your lawyer to respond to your queries and be there to help whenever you need them. 

The best criminal defence lawyers offer full transparency, so you always know what’s going on, and know what to expect as your case works its way through the court system. 

5. Empathy and Support

Being charged with a criminal offence is a traumatic, and the truth is that your lawyer is one of the few people you can count on to have your back throughout the entire process. For this reason, it is important that your lawyer be empathetic and supportive during the difficult time ahead. 

No matter what the final verdict is, being able to share your pain with someone who can withhold judgement and treat you with respect can make the entire process easier to bear. 

At Jeff Reisman Law, we understand that finding the right criminal lawyer isn’t just a matter of hiring a qualified attorney to argue your case. A lawyer is a confidant, an advocate, and an emotional support during trying times, and we work hard to provide our clients with the best possible service.  

If you’ve been charged with a crime and are preparing for a bail hearing or a court date, you need a lawyer who will understand your position and fight to clear your name — so get in touch with Jeffrey I. Reisman today.