Frequently Asked Questions

Michael W. Caroline, J.D., LL.M

Am I entitled to a free initial consultation?

Although this is not a legal right many lawyers, including Mr. Caroline, will initially meet with you to review documentation relating to your criminal matter and provide some basic legal information, including estimated legal fees.

How are legal fees determined?

They are largely a result of estimating the time involved in the case, the complexity of the case and the degree of difficulty. Other factors include the experience and expertise of the individual lawyer. There may be some room for negotiation between the lawyer and the potential client, although most lawyers have a base hourly rate that, as a minimum they expect.

What is a “retainer”?

Retainer can mean:
  1. The hiring of a lawyer;
  2. The initial payment of fees to a lawyer already hired;
  3. The document setting out the terms of the solicitor-client relationship.
During (or after) the initial consultation, the issue of representation by the lawyer will be raised. Once the nature of the services to be provided, the fee or range of fees to be charges, and the billing policy has been agreed upon, the lawyer will request an amount of money be payable to be applied against legal services to be provided. The retainer is generally payable before any significant legal services are performed. A written retainer agreement will confirm in writing these discussions.

What is solicitor-client privilege?

Solicitor-client privilege is a rule of evidence which prevents the lawyer (solicitor) from repeating any communication or providing any other confidential information received from a client in evidence in any proceeding. Even wide is the ethical duty of confidentiality which requires the lawyer to maintain all information received in confidence, no matter what the source of the information received during the course of the professional relationship. The duty of confidentiality extends not merely during the course of the retainer but thereafter.

What is the lawyer’s duty in acting for me in court?

The lawyer has a duty to the client to raise fearlessly every issue, advance every argument, and ask every question, however distasteful, which the lawyer thinks will help the client’s case and to endeavour to obtain for the client the benefit of every remedy and defence authorized by law.

Do I have an obligation to answer police questions?

Except in very limited circumstances (such as reporting a motor vehicle accident to the police under the Highway Traffic Act) although the police are entitled to obtain information by asking questions, they have no lawful power to compel the person sought to be questioned to answer. Either as a potential witness or suspect any citizen has the right to remain silent and not answer questions.

Do I have the right to speak to a lawyer before dealing with the police?

With certain important exceptions* upon being arrested or detained by the police you have the right to retain and instruct counsel without delay and the police are obligated to assist you in speaking with counsel (use of a telephone, privacy, etc.). If you are the subject of a demand by a police officer to provide a sample of your breath into a roadside screening device (for example, at a spot check) you DO NOT have the right to refuse to provide a breath sample until you speak to a lawyer.

What is the current law on drinking and driving?

The law with respect to “ability impaired” and “over 80 milligrams” has had some procedural changes in 2008 but most significantly amendments to the Highway Traffic Act and Criminal Code allow for potentially reduced driving prohibition (90 days) if a plea of guilty is entered within ninety days of the offence date and certain other prerequisites both with respect to the circumstances of the offence and the prior antecedents of the accused. This area of the law is exceedingly complex and individual legal advice should be sought as soon after the charge as possible.

Disclaimer

The content of this website is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. No action with regards to your particular matter should be taken until you have first sought full legal or professional advice from a lawyer fully retained to act on your behalf.
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