An experienced criminal defence lawyer expects and ensures that clients gain a true sense of confidence about how the system works, what can be done, what will happen in court and what the likely outcome will be.
Court appearances need not bring stress, and the courtroom need not seem mysterious. Court is just the building where we follow through on the preparation work that usually begins in a phone call and continues throughout the case. Preparation gives purpose to the appearances and control over outcomes.
A particularly important decision that comes up in every case is whether the accused should testify in his or her own defence. Legally the accused has no obligation to step into the witness box. But in some situations testifying is a good and/or necessary tactical decision. An accused can testify on the trial itself but also, for example, on a motion to exclude evidence under the Charter, or to create the foundation for a motion to get past the so-called “rape-shield” rules which otherwise may prevent full cross-examination of a complainant in a sexual assault matter. Some cases ‘call for an answer’ – an answer that only the accused can provide. One of counsel’s most important duties is to ensure the client is properly prepared to do so if necessary.
At trial, once the Crown has closed its case, the accused is called upon to make the final decision about whether to testify. At that moment, the accused’s ability to take the witness stand and win the case that way is the product of the pre-trial preparation work done between counsel and client.
In other cases, of course, exercising and maintaining the right to silence is the best strategic option. Indeed in some cases counsel really can take care of every last thing and the client is advised to ‘just sit back and watch and enjoy’.
Each and every case really is different, but the burden of proof is always on the Crown and Mr. Clark is always both sword and shield for the client’s right to life, liberty and security of the person.
For a free consultation please call 416.531.7321.