There are two types of criminal offences that criminal lawyers in BC encounter: summary conviction offences and indictable offences:
Offences are less serious, and generally have a maximum sentence of a $2000 fine and up to eighteen months in jail. These are usually dealt with in Provincial Court, which is the lower level Court in British Columbia.
They are more serious, and can have penalties as high as life imprisonment. These offences may be heard in Supreme Court or Provincial Court, and may be heard by a judge and jury, or else a judge alone.
Criminal defense lawyers usually charge fees on one of 3 ways: on an hourly rate; set fees for the case; or through legal aid.
Lawyers with 5 years experience may charge about $300-400 or more per hour, while other more senior counsel may charge from $500 – $750 per hour, or more.
Hourly rates will vary with the lawyer’s experience, success rate, and reputation. Some lawyers will have particular expertise in a given area, such as impaired driving, sexual assault, or marijuana cultivation, and may charge more because of their success in that area. Lawyers often charge set fees where the amount of work involved is fairly predictable.
For clients who meet the legal aid criteria, the whole amount of their fees will be covered. However, because legal aid pays substantially less than what a lawyers’ normal fees would be (and in many cases, amounts to less than the lawyer’s overhead), many criminal lawyers will not take legal aid cases. It is not possible to have legal aid pay for part of the lawyers’ fee and to privately pay the balance.
Legal aid is provided in British Columbia by the Legal Services Society (LSS), which is a non-profit organization created by the LSS Act in 1979 to provide legal information, advice, and representation services to people with low incomes.
Below is a link to the Legal Services Society of BC.
Telephone details for LSS:
Again, depending on your situation and your case, you may be eligible for legal aid.
If you would like more information or would like schedule a consultation, please contact me today. Please visit my website: www.lawyerfreeconsultation.com today.