I want to talk about a fact situation where you’ve been charged with a criminal offence, any type of criminal offence. A DUI, sexual assault, criminal harassment domestic assault, whatever that type of offence is, a property crime.
When should you really sit down with your lawyer that you retained and give him your complete version of events, from start to finish in detail ? This is a very important question to answer. What happens when you are charged with a criminal offence is you’re going to have a first court appearance about three to six weeks in, and you’re not going to get the Crown police reports, it’s called, disclosure. That’s the victim’s statement, witness statements, police notes until that time period. Once your lawyer has that, your lawyer’s going to review that, and completely understand your case. You really should not provide your detailed statement to your lawyer until you’ve reviewed that disclosure with your lawyer, and understand all of the potential defences that you may have. Then you are in a position to give your statement. You see, the victim’s statement, the police notes, the duty notes, that’s going to refresh your memory about what’s true, and what’s not true. If you give your statement earlier, you may be missing points, it’s not really that good of a strategy to give your full statement to a lawyer before that. You might touch on some points in our early meetings, but really, I encourage clients, only give their complete statement after they’ve fully reviewed the disclosure. Refresh their memory, and they are in a position to do that.
Now, I have a particular practice that our firm does and all of our lawyers do, that at that first meeting, when we are reviewing the disclosure, we generally take, you know, we discuss potential defences, give them our opinion, then receive their version. But even at that point, we don’t’ receive every single detail. I like the client to sit in the office for hours after that, reviewing their disclosure and then sit down and give a detailed statement, make notes, etc., on the disclosure for us. That’s really the route to go. That maximizes your chances of winning a criminal trial, maximizes your chances of giving all the details that your lawyer needs.