How Much Will It Cost? Criminal Charges 905-273-3322 



$200.00 for a 1 hour consultation

Defending Yourself

(not a good idea - it may cost you a lot more in the end)

A one hour consultation at my office where we study your disclosure and breath room video in detail to assess issues that can be litigated and your options


Ask Stephen R. Biss, Barrister & Solicitor


There are a number of different ways in which one can fight a criminal charge. The cost of defending a criminal charge fluctuates depending on the methods your lawyer uses.  These tactics vary on the lawyer, the criminal charge(s) and the details of the case. 


The Cost of not defending yourself against your criminal charge

When one is convicted of a criminal charge, there are many consequences that may occur. The central concern is that a conviction results in a criminal record. This is a problem as a criminal record never completely goes away in spite of requesting a pardon or if it’s a youth charge and you become an adult.

Many penalties that occur because of a criminal conviction include:

·         A criminal record could limit your ability to travel to outside of Canada

·         A criminal conviction/record might affect your current or future employment  if:

o   You work for the government and there are concerns with security clearance

o   You work with vulnerable persons and your position requires you to be free of a criminal record

·         A criminal conviction could cause you to be unable to volunteer at your church or local sports team.

·         Your professional and personal reputation will suffer if you have a criminal record.


Old City Hall Courthouse in Toronto


Pleading guilty with a properly retained lawyer

Pleading guilty to a criminal charge should be done with a privately retained lawyer for several reasons, many of which include the fact that such a lawyer understands the techniques that can be used to receive a better sentence in Court. A properly retained lawyer has time to get to know your good personal reputation and can then distinguish you and your case from all others that are before a Judge. A lawyer is essential when pleading guilty as they are able to:

·         Meet with the Crown Attorney to find their position on sentencing and advocate a better position. A properly retained lawyer has time to study the disclosure notes and video before meeting with the Crown so as to challenge weaknesses in the Crown's case and use those weaknesses in negotiations.

o   A lawyer might be able to assist you in ascertaining a lesser charge, rather than your original charge.

§  For Example: You might be charged with robbery (use of a weapon during theft) and if you are convicted you will receive a severe sentence. However, it may be that upon meeting with the client the lawyer is of the opinion that the person could be found guilty of theft, but not of robbery. A lawyer’s expertise is useful to negotiate a resolution with the Crown that relates to the facts of the case, but does not admit robbery.

o   In regards to a non drunk driving charge the lawyer may be able to convince the Crown to diversion (work in the community) in exchange for the charge being withdrawn.

§  Diversion can help you avoid a criminal record which will dramatically affect your employment, ability to travel outside of the country and reputation.

·         A lawyer’s experience can benefit you as they are able to review and understand the details of the disclosure. This is necessary as details can be exaggerated by the police or the complainant and as such the facts read in Court might not be correct

·         A lawyer’s skills can aid you in finding an empathetic Judge who will understand the unique circumstances of your situation. Sometimes the best approach is to simply adjourn a guilty plea to another day when a different Judge is sitting.

·         A lawyer can guide you in the drafting of materials such as character reference letters which might affect the Judge’s deliberation about your sentence

o   By obtaining a lawyer to advocate for a better sentence you might be able to receive a sentence that reflects your individual situation. For example, a lawyer can promote:

§  An intermittent jail sentence rather than a straight time sentence

§  A conditional discharge rather than a suspended sentence and probation order

§  A conditional sentence (jail at home) rather than incarceration in an institution

It should also be noted that Duty Counsel is available for people eligible for Legal Aid who wish to make a guilty plea. However, Duty Counsel does not have the time or the information to make a full presentation that achieves the same results that your own retained lawyer can accomplish. I have many years of experience as a duty counsel. I know that duty counsel have little time. They serve hundreds of accused persons. They cannot take the time to carefully study disclosure, watch a video, or obtain/proofread character reference letters.

Davis Criminal Courthouse in Brampton Ontario

Cost of a properly retained lawyer for a guilty plea

The exact amount a lawyer will charge for a guilty plea varies depending on a variety of factors. They will require a sufficient fee in order to cover their review of disclosure, meetings with the Crown Attorney, preparation of materials and Court appearances.

The exact cost of retaining a lawyer for a guilty plea will depend on the severity of your charge and the situation. The lawyer must figure out the price after a careful review of primary brief and information ascertained by review of additional disclosure, meetings with the Crown and Court attendances.

Criminal Court in Milton Ontario

Pleading not guilty with a lawyer

There are many situations in which pleading not guilty with a lawyer will bring an accused person the best results. It is essential to defend you and your unique fact situation. In order to defend a client to the best of the lawyer’s abilities, the Attorney will need to study the disclosure and meet with the Crown to make an accurate estimate of the length of the trial and any pre-trial motions. After the trial date is set the lawyer will mark days off on his or her calendar and reserve them for your case. When this is completed the client will be required to pay their lawyer the amount for the reserved time even if the Crown’s case collapses.

 Criminal Court in Orangeville Ontario

The Cost of defending yourself

It is strongly recommended that you retain a lawyer rather than attempting to defend yourself. This is necessary as a lawyer has the training and education to assert your legal rights appropriately in Court. Without the expertise of a lawyer it is difficult for a defendant to operate in Court without being inappropriate to the Judge, Crown, complainant or police. 

However, there are some situations where a person is not able to afford a lawyer, and they have been refused Legal Aid. In this situation, it is recommended that they hire a criminal lawyer’s advice for a few hours to discuss trial procedures. Also, a lawyer can give advice about which pieces of evidence/confessions are admissible or inadmissible and how to conduct a trial within a trial (voir dire). Maybe you can find a young lawyer who can help you do that.

If you decide to defend yourself there may be an advantage in saying “not guilty” and nothing more. In Canada, the onus is on the Crown to prove that you are guilty. Therefore, by saying nothing the Crown is forced to prove the case against you, which they may not be able to do. Often, people who defend themselves hurt their case by calling evidence or taking the witness stand, which assists the Crown in filling in the holes of their case. However, there are some situations where you will need to call evidence.

There are some situations where the specific details of your case make you morally innocent but deemed guilty according to law. It is always strongly recommended that you retain a lawyer. However, in these deeming situations a lawyer’s assistance is a definite asset in pleading not guilty.

Criminal Courthouse in Newmarket Ontario

Fees that might influence the outcome of your criminal matter: Experts

Some approaches that a lawyer might use could include the use of outside experts. Experts such as photographers, accident reconstructionists, psychologists and other technical specialists might make the difference in the outcome of your trial. As a client you will be charged for any photo shoots, preparation of reports, affidavits and Court appearances. It is important to inquire about any experts your lawyer might use and any cost there might be for hiring them.


What is a retainer?

A retainer is when a client pays most of the legal fee up front by a bank draft. That amount is deposited into a trust account. This money still belongs to you as a client; however it goes into a special (but pooled) trust bank account. Your lawyer will send statements whenever they pay legal fees out of the trust account. This account may cover fees owed to your lawyer, as well as any experts or extra expense your case requires. It is important to note that there are always surprises during criminal law proceedings. At times extra costs can be identified or a trial can be extended by adjournments. At this time your lawyer will ask you to restore the retainer. There are also circumstances where the entire retainer may not be used because the Crown’s case collapses at an early stage. You may get some money back or the money may go to pay for the lawyer's lost calendar dates. A retainer is extremely important so that your lawyer can fight your case to the best of their ability without being concerned with payments.

Your lawyer will require that you give them a retainer before they begin working for you. Trust is essential between a client and their lawyer when a retainer is utilized. This means that you must choose your lawyer very carefully. Also, it is important that your lawyer has experience in the field where they are defending you.  You must keep in touch with your lawyer and you should never be afraid to book an appointment with your lawyer to be updated on the progress of your case as well as any past and future costs.

What is the best way to find out about the cost?

The best way to receive an estimate of the cost of defending against your criminal charge is to meet with your lawyer personally face to face for a couple of hours. Meet the lawyer personally, not just a clerk. This is necessary so that both you and the lawyer get a full picture of the kinds of defences that can be used. A Lawyer needs time to review disclosure and meet with you in order to get an estimate of the number of days in Court and the variety of expert witnesses that will need to be retained. A lawyer cannot give you an estimate over the phone because they do not know the extent of your case. It is very important to you that you get a good result. Take some time to shop around to find the lawyer who you feel will best advocate for you.




Stephen R. Biss, Barrister & Solicitor

470 Hensall Circle, Suite 303
Mississauga, Ontario
L5A 3V4

905-273-3322 or 1-877-273-3322


Advertisement. Any legal opinions expressed at this site relate to the Province of Ontario, Canada only. If you reside or carry on business in any other jurisdiction please consult a lawyer, solicitor, or attorney in your own jurisdiction. WARNING: All information contained herein is provided for the purpose of providing basic information only and should not be construed as formal legal advice. The author disclaims any and all liability resulting from reliance upon such information. You are strongly encouraged to seek and retain professional legal advice before relying upon any of the information contained herein.