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Being charged with a crime doesn’t make you guilty

Collingwood criminal lawyer Phil Sherman helps clients through one of the most distressing periods of their lives

Criminal lawyer Phil Sherman has provided effective solutions to criminal law problems facing clients for nearly 30 years. He’s represented people accused of a vast array of criminal offenses, but he has extensive expertise in domestic and sexual assault cases.

Mr. Sherman has a reputation for handling matters with discretion, compassion, and sensitivity.

Feeling trapped and terrified

People charged with a crime often feel like their life is crashing down around them. Phil Sherman says, “I want to stress to people facing criminal charges that they are not trapped.”

Domestic assault cases for example can be extremely painful. Mr. Sherman says, “In many cases, persons charged with domestic assault are prevented by the court from living with or even contacting their loved ones while the matter is making its way through the criminal justice system. They’re worried about the impact on their families, their employment, and they feel they have a lot on the line.”

Contact a criminal lawyer

Mr. Sherman advises accused persons to reach out to a lawyer because they need to know where they stand. “Once they receive the disclosure, the defence will have a clearer idea of the strengths and weaknesses of the case and how it might play out.”

When first contacted, Mr. Sherman explains how the system works and the timelines to expect. At the start, there will be some form of extrajudicial release, whether it’s an undertaking or bail conditions. Mr. Sherman says, “It is crucial that you have someone there for you who knows the law and the legal system and will advocate for you.”

How to prepare for a meeting with a lawyer

Mr. Sherman tells potential clients to attend the first meeting with all the information and documentation available including:

  • A detailed list of questions
  • A summary of events as you know them to be

The summary should be in a sealed envelope with the words “PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL – FOR MY LAWYER” to ensure the information won’t be used against you at trial.

Mr. Sherman advises clients not to discuss the case with anyone before their meeting because only what is said to your lawyer is protected from becoming evidence against you.

There are various courses of action that can be taken, and an accused person needs to know the ramifications of each. Mr. Sherman tells clients that even though the charges are distressing, it’s not the end of the world.

He emphasizes, “The crown attorney must prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, and that’s a very high standard.”

Don’t be in a hurry

Mr. Sherman finds that a lot of people accused of a crime just want to get it over with as soon as possible. But Mr. Sherman urges clients not to rush, because it needs to be done right. He says, “We want to be sure that we completely understand the entire case, including defences that need to be explored and exhausted.”

Mr. Sherman discourages clients from pleading guilty and accepting a penalty right away. He tells them to have a sober second thought, analyze the case and understand what will happen.

Doesn’t fall together like Law & Order

There are many steps before a criminal case reaches a resolution. Mr. Sherman says, “I always tell my clients that they’re potentially dealing with issues that could take several months, even a year or more before the entire case is resolved.”

The process begins with a first appearance where the only thing the court wants to know is if the accused has a lawyer.

During subsequent appearances, the defence will get additional disclosure. “At that point, we’re in a position to understand the facts of the case, the law at play, and reach out to the crown attorney to see if negotiation is possible. That’s a very important part of criminal law, it’s not just showing up for trial like it is on T.V.”

Negotiations will resolve the case much more quickly than taking it to trial. Mr. Sherman says, “It takes a lot of the stress out of it and makes it less of an all-or-nothing prospect. Although, some matters do go to trial because an accused is not going to plead guilty to something they didn’t do.”

An accused person does have rights and they should consult a lawyer before they proceed to court. Located in Collingwood, Phil Sherman also serves Simcoe County, York Region, and the GTA. He assures potential clients that there is no cost for the initial consultation.

For more information, contact Phil Sherman at (905) 751-5969 or email: