What happens next (after hiring a lawyer)?

Usually the first step to be taken will involve requesting the police report concerning your criminal charges. Crown Counsel will provide us with a copy of the police file, also known as your disclosure. This package will contain the details of the charges against you. It includes the circumstances (police report) from the Crown Counsel (prosecutor) and the information (charges) from the court clerk. Usually an adjournment (delay) for two weeks or more is necessary so that the lawyer may do a thorough review of all aspects of your case and determine what strategy ought to be utilized.

Once you have decided how you will plead (guilty or not guilty), you or your lawyer will have to tell the judge. If you plead guilty, you will probably be sentenced right away (however, more serious cases will require reports (by a probation officer, a psychologist or psychiatrist, and may also involve obtaining character reference letters to provide to the Judge). If you plead not guilty, the court will hold an arraignment hearing and ask both the prosecutor and you or your lawyer how long the trial will take. Then you will have to set a date for the trial. (The process is more complicated for indictable charges such as aggravated assault or breaking and entering a dwelling; indictable offences are considered more serious than summary offences.)

At trial, the Crown will call witnesses that you or your lawyer will be able to cross-examine. Your lawyer can then call witnesses (possibly including you) if he wishes. After all of the witnesses have testified, you r lawyer will summarize the defence position and the facts and law which support it. At the end of the trial, the judge will either find you guilty or not guilty. If you are found guilty, the judge will sentence you. The sentencing usually happens right away, but may be delayed to another date in more serious or complicated cases.

If you are found not guilty, the matter will be over and you will be free to leave the court. Any bail conditions that were imposed on you expire.