- Not demanding a trial or a dismissal on trial days when the Crown witnesses have failed to show up.
- Not reading the disclosure or learning the Crown’s case against them.
- Going to trial where there are no real triable issues.
- Deciding to testify when they should not, or thinking that they “are supposed to” testify.
- Making accidental and damaging admissions, e.g., “Yes, I hit her but she hit me too.”
- Not calling the witnesses they need.
- Not availing themselves of processes which can help them, such as a hearing on the confession.
- Not asking for a directed verdict when the Crown has not proved its case.
- Not understanding the available defences.
- Not seeing the relevance of evidence.
- Not being able to effectively scrutinize witness testimony without a lawyer.
- Poor cross-examination, including that which makes them look bullying or abusive.
- Not knowing what arguments to make at sentencing.
- Not knowing the best arguments to use (or not use) with particular judges.
- Not knowing the mandatory sentences for certain offences.
- Not mentioning improvements they have made in their lives since the offence, e.g., getting a job or taking treatment.
- Not being aware of or asking for a certain type of sentence, e.g., conditional discharge or intermittent sentence.
- Not speaking up to argue against the imposition of unworkable conditions of sentence when they are discussed or read but in court, conditions which must then be altered – or will be violated.