Finding you facing criminal charges is an incredibly stressful and frightening experience. Even if you believe you are innocent or the charges are unfair, the prospect of going to trial and potentially facing severe penalties is daunting. Fortunately, an experienced criminal defense lawyer has various strategies to use to get your charges dropped or reduced.
Initial consultation and case review
During your initial meeting, the top criminal lawyers in Brampton will want to review the details of your case, charges, police reports, and any other evidence. This review allows them to gain a comprehensive understanding of the prosecution’s case and begin formulating strategies. Your lawyer will then analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the prosecution’s case and start assessing options. For instance, they will look for any investigative or procedural mistakes law enforcement made or if your rights were violated upon arrest. Violations like improper searches or failure to read Miranda rights sometimes result in evidence or the case dismissed entirely if the mistakes were egregious enough.
Negotiating with the prosecutor
The most effective way defense lawyers get charges reduced or dropped is by negotiating with the prosecutor. More than 90% of criminal cases end with a plea bargain agreement rather than going to trial. Your attorney will initiate conversations with the prosecutor to discuss weaknesses in the charges against you or mitigating circumstances. For example, if there are evidentiary problems or the crime is relatively minor, the prosecutor may be willing to amend or lower the charges. They know getting a conviction at trial isn’t guaranteed, so reducing charges through a mutually beneficial plea deal saves time and resources. The goal is to negotiate down to probation, community service, rehabilitation programs, or other alternatives to jail time.
Presenting affirmative defences
Certain circumstances surrounding a criminal allegation may justify a defense that excuses or mitigates the offense. Common affirmative defences in criminal cases include self-defense, insanity, duress, or entrapment. A lawyer files motions asking for charges to be dismissed if there is convincing evidence to prove the affirmative defense. For example, if there are witnesses and injuries demonstrating you only acted violently in self-defense against an attacker, the charges could potentially get dropped. Or if you show you were coerced into committing the crime against your will under threat, the charges may be reduced or dropped.
Securing favourable plea agreements
As mentioned, most criminal cases are resolved through plea bargaining agreements rather than trials. An experienced criminal lawyer knows how to leverage every advantage to negotiate the most favorable pleas that could involve reduced charges, lighter sentencing, or alternative sanctions like rehab. Even if the prosecutor won’t agree to drop charges entirely, pleading guilty to lesser charges or pleading no contest still results in dramatically better outcomes versus going to trial and facing harsh mandatory minimum sentencing. Defendants often agree to plead guilty in return for sentence recommendations that judges usually accept.
Presenting mitigating evidence
If charges aren’t going to be dropped entirely, criminal defense lawyers present mitigating evidence, so any penalties are limited. Mitigating evidence essentially provides context showing why a defendant’s actions were justified or not entirely unreasonable. This evidence doesn’t legally excuse the crime but serves to influence sentencing. For example, documenting mental health struggles, past trauma, or having no criminal record persuades judges against maximum sentences. Other mitigating factors may include taking responsibility, showing remorse, or making efforts to pay restitution to victims. Introducing supporting testimony from friends, family, employers or experts also sway decisions.