Representing Yourself in a Criminal Case? One Calgary Defence Lawyer's Thoughts: Part 2
In Part 1 of this article, we took a look at the advantages you gain by hiring an experienced Calgary defence lawyer when you've been charged with a crime. Partnering with a defence lawyer means you get years of legal education, training, and experience, and of course all of the additional knowledge and insights that this experience provides. When you choose to represent yourself, you're putting yourself at a distinct disadvantage within the complex and unfamiliar criminal justice system, and you're going up against Crown prosecutors who have years of experience themselves.
These advantages are somewhat obvious, of course, though they bear repeating. Unfortunately, these advantages do not address one of the key concerns that many in Calgary have when they've been accused of a crime: money. All of the education, training, and experience lawyers have comes at a cost; being a practicing lawyer is a serious profession that requires a significant investment on the part of the lawyer, and like other professionals they need and deserve to be paid for their work.
For lower-income Calgarians, who are frequently more likely to be charged with a crime, the cost of hiring a defence lawyer can seem prohibitive. If you have considered representing yourself in a criminal defence case, chances are the cost of hiring professional legal assistance had something to do with your thought process.
In my opinion, there's no question that the expense of an experienced Calgary defence lawyer is well worth it, but that doesn't change the number at the bottom line. There are options that do change that number, though, and that can connect you with a criminal defence lawyer of your choice at little or no cost to you.
Legal Aid Alberta and Rowbotham Applications for the Defence Lawyer You Deserve
No one should be placed at a legal disadvantage simply because they cannot afford to pay for a Calgary defence lawyer out of their own pocket. Legal Aid Alberta was established to provide low-income individuals and families with lawyers and legal advice on a range of issues, including defending against criminal charges. There are financial eligibility requirements you must meet in order to work with Legal Aid, and you must be charged with a serious crime (typically one in which imprisonment is a potential penalty upon conviction), but if you meet those requirements Legal Aid may be able to connect you with a defence lawyer of your choosing.
If you are ineligible for Legal Aid or are denied for another reason, you still have the option of filing what's known as a Rowbotham Application, or an application for court-ordered counsel. A judge will review your application and determine if your situation warrants having the government pay some or all of your legal fees for your defence.
A Dedicated Calgary Defence Lawyer Will See Your Case from Start to Finish
If you've been charged with a serious crime in the Greater Calgary Area and have been considering representing yourself, I strongly recommend you consult with a Calgary defence lawyer first. You can get help with your application to Legal Aid and/or your Rowbotham Application, and pursue the most effective defence strategies for you and your family right from the start.
For a free initial consultation, please contact my office today.