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Frequently asked questions

While this website provides general information, it does not constitute legal advice. The best way to get guidance on your specific legal issue is to contact a lawyer.

For a criminal case, you need a criminal lawyer. This area of law is technical and has its own procedures and rules.

You may have names for criminal lawyers from friends or family, and you might wish to speak to or meet with a few lawyers. When you meet with a lawyer, ask yourself whether the lawyer inspires confidence. Are they someone you trust and are happy to work with? Does the lawyer listen and respond to your concerns? Is the lawyer energetic and engaged, willing to work hard for you? You are well advised to ask these questions at the outset, rather than launching with one lawyer, only to change your mind later on.

There is no single answer to this question. For charges that are not serious, for a person without a criminal record, you have a good prospect of being released the same day or the day following. (Sometimes your lawyer can persuade the police to release you from the station rather than holding you overnight for court.) For more serious cases, or if the person has a criminal record or there are other complications, it may take some days to be ready to bring a bail application in court.

Because you only get one chance to seek release on bail, it is important to be fully organized and put forward the best possible arguments for release. Your lawyer may need to receive and assess the evidence in the case (especially in murder and complicated prosecutions), in order to identify frailties in the case, since the strength of the case may be taken into account by the Court in deciding whether to release a person.

Not much. (Unless you are in custody.) The Court generally wants all accused persons to attend for a “first appearance,” to see if they are retaining a lawyer, and so that the Crown prosecutor can provide to the accused a disclosure package containing the police report and basic evidence. (This disclosure package is also called “particulars.”) Normally, court cases have a few early appearances, to allow the person time to find a lawyer, and for the lawyer to read the material, assess the case, and speak with the client and the prosecutor.

If you hire a lawyer, your lawyer can go to court for you for all but the most important appearances, such as the trial itself. This avoids you missing days of work for every court appearance date.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees various legal rights to anybody dealing with the police in Canada. These include the right to silence, the right to contact a lawyer, the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, and the right not to be arbitrarily detained. It is beyond the scope of this FAQ to analyze each of these rights. It is unwise to resist the police or be aggressively rude. But you can ask them if you are legally required to do something. If the police tell you that you are legally required (to let them in, to go with them, etc.), you should do it. If the police say you are not legally required to do that thing, then in most cases it is best to say no. It is wise to contact a lawyer immediately in such a situation.

Yes. We have strong connections to lawyers and experts in Vancouver, across Canada, and in the United States. We are often referred cases by other lawyers, for clients whose situation calls for criminal defence counsel. We are pleased to accept referrals and to field questions from both the client and the referring lawyer.

Some criminal cases have other components, such as a civil suit for damages, a professional disciplinary proceeding, or an immigration proceeding. We generally restrict our practice to the criminal and disciplinary processes, but are well placed to suggest counsel to address any other issues. Similarly, in cases that have cross-jurisdictional dimensions, we often liaise with lawyers in the other country or province, in order to ensure the client’s position is addressed in a comprehensive way. When we work with other lawyers, we develop an overall strategy to address every aspect of the case.

About us

Martland & Saulnier is a leading Vancouver criminal law firm. We have been recognized by Canadian Lawyer magazine as one of the top criminal law boutiques in Canada for 2022-2023. We help people from every walk of life, with all types of criminal cases.

Please reach out to discuss your case.