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What to Look For in a Criminal Defence Lawyer

When you are caught up in the criminal justice system, you’re faced with many choices that can impact the course of your ordeal: Should I speak with the police? How should I plead? Should I negotiate with Crown prosecutors? Should I take the stand in my own defense? Each one of these choices is significant, but more than any other, your choice of an Ontario criminal defence lawyer can make the biggest difference as to whether you regain your life or face the loss of your reputation, career, or freedom.

There is no shortage of defence lawyers in Ontario, so how do you go about selecting the right one for you? There are a number of characteristics you should look for, and a number of questions you should ask as you go about your search.

Years of experience handling cases like yours, legal fees charged, and reputation for favorable results are all key factors in choosing the right lawyer to defend your case. Make sure the lawyer you hire to represent you is known for aggressively defending clients, successfully obtaining acquittals and withdrawals of criminal charges, and negotiating reasonable plea bargains.

Ask Questions

Questions you should always ask when looking for a Toronto criminal defence lawyer are:

  • How long have you practiced criminal law in this Province?
  • Is your practice primarily focused on criminal defence?
  • How many people have you represented with cases like mine?
  • In how many cases like mine have you achieved favourable results?
  • Will you personally handle my case or will someone else in your office work on it?
  • How much will you charge to represent me?
  • Do you offer payment plans?
  • How long does it usually take to defend a case like this one?

Reputation Says a Lot

Professional reputation as well as feeling comfortable with a lawyer should be the primary factors one looks at when selecting a lawyer to defend your criminal case. One of the best ways to identify a lawyer with a strong reputation for getting favorable results is to ask your network, including your social media network, for referrals. The best referral source is someone who has been in a similar situation and had a successful case outcome. Another way to find the right lawyer for your case is through Internet research. Membership and participation in credible professional associations is also a good indicator of solid reputation as a criminal lawyer.

Personal Qualities

Great criminal defence lawyers have a solid knowledge of the Criminal Code of Canada, understand the nuances of the local court system, and are familiar with the likely approaches and strategies of the Crown prosecutors. Additionally, the best defence lawyers possess the following qualities:

  • Tenacity
  • Fair-dealing
  • Ability to explain case options in plain language
  • Willingness to challenge authority
  • Problem solving skills
  • Passion for justice

By hiring lawyers possessing these personal qualities, you are more likely to obtain a successful outcome in your criminal case.


Since 1996, the law firm of Mitch Engel, Barrister & Solicitor has been providing clients throughout the Toronto, Oshawa, Brampton, and Mississauga areas with top-level criminal defence representation. With an exclusive focus on criminal defence, he has keen insight into successful defence strategies and is passionate about helping his clients achieve the best possible resolution to their matters. Call Mitch Engel at (866) 761-7077 to get the legal advice you need to reclaim your life. 


The materials provided on this site are for information purposes only. These materials constitute general information relating to areas of law familiar to our firm lawyers. They do NOT constitute legal advice or other professional advice and you may not rely on the contents of this website as such.

Mitch Engel Barrister & Solicitor
2 County Court Blvd Suite 400 Brampton, ON L6W 3W8
Phone: (866) 761-7077 URL of Map