Best Criminal Defense Lawyer in Ottawa

Top 7 Criminal Defense Lawyers in Ottawa

Nobody wants (and deserves) to be charged with a crime they did not commit. But just in case this happens to you or your loved ones, it’s wise to get the services of the top criminal defense lawyer in Ottawa.

How to pay for one might add to the anxiety of the criminal charge. That’s why we made sure to include a short discussion in the following section on how much you can expect to pay for this type of legal service.

How Much Does a Criminal Defense Lawyer Charge in Ottawa?

Based on the 2020 legal fees survey of Canadian Lawyer magazine, the average cost of hiring a criminal defence lawyer in Ontario for a single-day criminal trial is somewhere between $5,300 and $6,111.

Of course, if you’ve chosen a high-profile criminal defense lawyer or a prestigious law firm, chances are huge that you’re going to pay a higher fee for their services.

How complex your case is, if it goes to trial, how lengthy the trial will be, and other important legal procedures and judicial issues are the main factors that could affect your invoice, too.

For some time now, hourly rates have become the standard for how criminal defense lawyers charged their clients. Today, you can see plenty of law firms and practices opting for block fees, instead.

Generally, firms that offer flat rates or block fee pricing are preferred by clients because there’s a notion that the lawyers will be more motivated to work toward a speedier positive outcome for them. The lawyer’s retainer fee is also typically covered as a percentage of the total block fee.

However, the Law Society of Ontario proposed seniority and experience-based fee schedules of hourly rates. We made a table below to reflect the range of categories and corresponding rates.

Senior Counsel (12 to more than 20 years since call to the bar)$325 – $350
Counsel (9 – 12 years since call to the bar)$285 – $315
Counsel (6 – 9 years since call to the bar)$240 – $270
Counsel (3 – 6 years since call to the bar)$205 – $225
Counsel (1 – 3 years since call to the bar)$165 – $195
Law clerks/students$90

While the hourly rates above are suggested by a recognized Law Society, individual firms and lawyers could still have their own fees and pricing matrices. Fortunately, most of them offer free initial consultations for clients so it’s the best time to clarify what their rates are.

The Top Criminal Defense Lawyers in Ottawa

Now that you have an idea of hourly legal rates and national averages, it’s time to see which criminal defense lawyer in Ottawa can best represent your case.

Please note that this listicle was done in no particular order.

1.   Céline Dostaler

Céline Dostaler's Homepage
SERVICESImpaired and “over .80”, assault, sexual assault, domestic assault, drug offences, white-collar crime, police obstruction, search and seizure, weapons possession, homicide, fraud, theft and shoplifting, mischief, young offender, bail hearings and reviews
ADDRESS200 Elgin St, Suite 901 Ottawa ON K2P 1L5
CONTACT NUMBER613.695.8595
[email protected]
OPERATING HOURSMonday to Friday 9 AM – 5 PM
Closed on Saturdays and Sundays

Céline Dostaler has been focusing exclusively on criminal defense law since 2010.

She can be approached for any cases involving practically all criminal charges (refer to the services menu above).

What makes her practice stand out is that clients can speak to her directly without having to repeat their stories to a barrage of lawyers and assistants. Céline Dostaler is also a bilingual lawyer who can fluently speak and understand French and English so that no miscommunication or mistranslations occur.

Her approach to defending her clients’ cases is to weaken the charges by identifying inconsistencies in both the witness testimonies and evidence. A look at the Cases page on her website shows how Céline Dostaler got clients’ charges dropped or withdrawn in the past years.

Potential clients can request a 30-minute initial consultation with her at no charge. Aside from discussing the case involved, Céline Dostaler will explain her block fee payment preference and how the Criminal Court system works so clients can get a picture of the whole legal situation.


  • Free initial 30-minute consultation
  • Bilingual lawyer
  • Charges flat fees
  • Specializes in criminal defense law


  • No office on weekends
  • No BBB accreditation
  • Doesn’t provide a base fee for legal services

Customer Reviews

Get to know how Céline Dostaler’s clients liked her services:

“I had never been charged before, never needed to find a lawyer.  But when my ex charged me with a domestic assault, I knew I needed the best criminal lawyer I could find.  Celine did not disappoint.  She was there for me through every step of the way, she made sure I understood what was happening, and got the charges dropped.  You won’t regret having Celine fighting for you.” – E.C.

“Celine was wonderful to work with!  I really appreciated that she was available to answer all my questions and explain everything to me. I was scared that if I was found guilty, I’d lose my job.  And all because of something I did when I was stressed and not thinking right.  After he heard everything my lawyer had to say, the judge gave me a discharge.  Thanks so much for all your hard work.” – D.R.

2.   David Anber’s Law Office

David Anber’s Law Office's Homepage
SERVICESDUI offences, driving offences, criminal offences, crimes of violence, property offences, drug offences, justice system crimes, driver’s licence cases, serious driving offences, speeding/racing cases, provincial offences, regulatory offences
ADDRESS150 Metcalfe Street, Suite 2300 Ottawa, ON K2P 1P1
CONTACT NUMBER613­­-755­-4008
[email protected]
OPERATING HOURSBy appointment only
24-hour email or phone inquiry

No case is too big or too small for criminal defense lawyer David Anber to handle. As the Principal Counsel of his eponymous law firm, he has overseen over a thousand cases for clients in Ottawa, Montreal, and Toronto.

His team is made up of him, an associate counsel, a paralegal, a law clerk, office staff, and extended members. Clients are assured of total focus on their cases from the team whether it’s for a criminal trial or a Traffic Court matter.

If you want to get a feel of how David Anber and his team win clients for their cases, take a look at his website. There’s a page there called Success Stories detailing various criminal defense cases (with anonymous client names) and their resulting verdicts.

Clients are welcome to contact David Anber’s law office for a free initial consultation 24 hours a day. Those requiring Legal Aid cases can fill up a form on the site to see if they qualify for one after a thorough review.


  • 24/7 services via phone or email
  • Takes on Legal Aid cases
  • Free initial consultation


  • Walk-in clients aren’t entertained
  • No BBB accreditation

Customer Reviews

Read the following client feedback for David Anber’s Law Office:

“David’s diligence, hard work and professionalism helped me achieve the best possible outcome. Selecting David was the smartest thing I could’ve done and because of him, I have my life back. I placed my complete trust in you and you delivered. Thank you, David!” – Jim Piche

“Choosing a lawyer is one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do, I went to 6 different law offices before I came across David Amber’s law office. I had a gut feeling that I was making the right decision and thank God I was right. So if you are 2nd guessing your decision or don’t know what law office to choose let me help you with your decision, I would choose David Amber’s law office A 100 times out of a 100 times because you’re not just hiring a lawyer you are hiring a team of people that are dedicated to proving your innocence! Highly recommend them!” – Mackenzie Toth

3.   Michael Johnston (Shore Johnston Hyslop Day LLP)

Michael Johnston (Shore Johnston Hyslop Day LLP)'s Homepage
SERVICESClient defence for DUI/impaired/refuse breath sample /blow over 80mgs, dangerous driving causing death/injury, drug charges (all types), domestic abuse, domestic violence, assault (all types), robbery/theft/fraud, professional discipline complaints, administrative tribunals and inquiries, etc.
ADDRESS200 Elgin Street, Suite 800, Ottawa, Ontario K2P 1L5
CONTACT NUMBER613.233.7747
[email protected]
OPERATING HOURSMonday to Friday 9 AM – 5 PM
Closed on Saturdays and Sundays

A lot of client testimonials about Michael Johnston mention the fact that he comes highly recommended by past clients and other people he’s served. But if you want to see beyond client reviews for this lawyer or his firm, go to the Results page of the Shore Johnston Hyslop Day website.

You’ll find the most recent and archived verdicts, processes, and other details (except where anonymity is required) for a variety of criminal defense cases that he’s handled with the team.

Michael Johnston believes that every client has the right to be represented regardless of their financial status. That’s why he accepts Legal Aid Ontario-certified clients and can represent others at discounted fees via his JusticeNet membership.

He speaks three languages: English, Spanish, and some conversational French. This is convenient for clients because they can communicate freely and openly with Michael Johnston and not be worried about getting lost in translation.

Initial consultations with him (and the entire Shore Johnston Hyslop Day team) are free.


  • Free initial consultation
  • Member of JusticeNet
  • Accepts Legal Aid Ontario certificates
  • Offers a 25% discount to Canadian Armed Forces members


  • No office on weekends
  • No BBB accreditation
  • Doesn’t provide a base fee for legal services

Customer Reviews

The following have positive things to say about Michael Johnston:

“Mr. Johnston is an amazing lawyer and I’m very lucky that I came across his number. The results are amazing and if you need an attorney don’t think twice about hiring me Johnston!” – Ali Abdo

“I wanted to thank Mr. Michael Johnston for the excellent work he did as my attorney. I know he has a lot of clients, so his quick responses and attention to detail really meant a lot to me. Without Mr. Johnston’s help, I know that I would not have had the successful outcomes that I had. Having an experienced attorney like Mr. Johnston to be my lead counsel and on my side was a big sign that my case will be resolved very quickly and in my favour.

Hands down Mr. Johnston is the best lawyer, no matter what legal advice you’re looking for, I would highly recommend him. He will look out for your best interests and have your back the entire time. Thank you so much Mr. Johnston for protecting my interest and thank you for your service and professionalism.” – Ali Mustafa

4.   Michael Edelson (Edelson Law)

Michael Edelson (Edelson Law)'s Homepage
SERVICESDUI charges and driving offences, domestic assault, sexual charges, drug charges, fraud and white-collar crime, weapons and firearms offences,
ADDRESS200 Elgin Street Suite 600 Ottawa, ON K2P 1L5
CONTACT NUMBER(613) 237-2290
[email protected]
OPERATING HOURSMonday to Friday 8.30 AM – 5.30 PM
Closed on Saturdays and Sundays

The Law Society of Ontario granted Michael Edelson a certification as a Specialist in Criminal Law back in 1989. Today, his practice is largely focused on defending criminal and regulatory offenses.

He heads a team of criminal defense lawyers under Edelson Law Barristers. Together, the team has a combined 75 years of criminal defense experience.

Specifically, he handles cases revolving around criminal trials and appeals, Highway Traffic Act and by-law infractions, and constitutional challenges. He also offers clients legal advice and opinions and can be asked to represent during police and regulatory investigations.

Aside from handling over 1,500 cases throughout Ontario, Michael Edelson has also represented clients in other provinces and even those under different jurisdictions. He has associated with other legal experts from London, Spain, and Switzerland in the past.

With the understanding that clients charged with a criminal case can also be undergoing financial hardships, Edelson Law provides free initial consultation for them.


  • Certified Specialist in criminal law
  • A broad range of legal services
  • Free consultation


  • No office on weekends
  • Doesn’t provide a base fee for legal services
  • No BBB accreditation

Customer Reviews

See how past clients found the services of Michael Edelson and Edelson Law Barristers:

“This law firm helped us get through one of the most difficult times in our lives. They handled the court case flawlessly and allowed my son to keep his life intact. I highly recommend this law firm.” – Louise V.

“Friendly, professional legal service.” – Truth W.

5.   Howard Krongold (Abergel Goldstein & Partners LLP)

Howard Krongold (Abergel Goldstein & Partners LLP)'s Homepage
SERVICESAppeals, assault charges, bail hearings, domestic assault, drinking and driving, drug offences, homicide, sexual assault, Supreme Court of Canada appeals, white-collar crimes
ADDRESS116 Lisgar Street, Suite 200 Ottawa, ON K2P 0C2
CONTACT NUMBER(613) 235-9779
[email protected]
OPERATING HOURSMonday to Friday 8.30 AM – 5 PM
Closed on Saturdays and Sundays

Abergel Goldstein & Partners is a firm that doesn’t believe in being “too nice”. That’s why its lawyers, including Howard Krongold, are razor-focused on protecting their clients because they believe prosecutions are always a personal thing.

Howard Krongold is himself a certified Specialist in Criminal Law. He’s headed the defense of over 80 appeals (his area of specialization along with complex trials) before Ontario’s Court of Appeals.

He’s also successfully defended clients on trials ranging from large-scale drug trafficking to murder. As the firm’s site puts it, Howard Krongold and the rest of the legal team are first and foremost trial lawyers whose mission is to deliver complicated legal arguments while detecting cracks in witnesses’ testimonies.

If you’re interested in consulting with Howard Krongold, an initial meeting won’t cost you anything. And if your case meets their qualifications, the firm will accept it via Legal Aid.


  • Certified Specialist in Criminal Law
  • Accepts Legal Aid in appropriate cases
  • Free initial consultation


  • Doesn’t provide a base fee for legal services
  • No BBB accreditation
  • No office on weekends

Customer Reviews

Find out how Howard Krongold’s clients found his services:

“It is really scary to be charged with a serious crime – especially when you are innocent. Every lawyer at Abergel Goldstein & Partners is amazing. They are respected but also feared. Most importantly they achieve amazing results.” – Bill S.

“I approached AGP LLP to defend a friend of mine who was looking for legal assistance. One of the best things about this criminal law firm is that the lawyers will put you at ease after you talk to them. They asked all the right questions and made me aware of all the possibilities. They truly care for their clients because they keep you informed at every step of the way till the case gets finally dismissed.” – Dirk Milsap

6.   Nikolas Lust

Nikolas Lust's Homepage
SERVICESPractice Areas:
CONTACT NUMBERemail: [email protected]
office: 613-233-2542
cellular: 613-857-1911
fax: 613-564-0400
OPERATING HOURSCheck their booking calendar here

Nikolas J. Lust is one of the few lawyers that focuses on his clients, not his profits. He strives to guide his clients throughout the entire legal process through giving them the information they need to make the right legal decision.

He is well-versed in numerous areas of practice in criminal law, with his primary focus resting on sexual assaults, domestic violence, drinking and driving, and drug trafficking. To represent his client better, he does his best to understand their individual circumstances, down to the smallest detail.

No matter what their client’s case may be, he will make sure to provide frequent updates and advise so that they remain on the same page at all times. He is open to meetings online or offline, at his client’s convenience.

Finally, these premier services come at affordable rates, as he believes that clients come first before money. Nikolas J. Lust’s dedication to the client and expertise regarding criminal law make him a legal partner you can rely on, whatever your legal problem may be.


  • Approachable, flexible, and interpersonal
  • Numerous areas of practice
  • Virtual, telephone, or in person meetings available
  • Dedicated working process


  • Walk-ins may not be accommodated

7.   Bruce Engel

SERVICESImpaired driving, Over 80 charges, Dangerous driving/careless driving, Drug/Narcotics charges, Sexual assault, Child pornography, Spouse/Partner/Domestic assault, White collar crime, Theft, Tax fraud/evasion, Breach of trust, Money laundering, Bank/Insurer fraud, Youth court cases
ADDRESS116 Lisgar Street, Suite 210 Ottawa, Ontario, K2P 0C2 Canada
CONTACT NUMBER(613) 235-6324
OPERATING HOURSMonday to Friday 8 AM – 6 PM

Bruce Engel & Associates have been representing clients charged with hundreds of different offences throughout Ontario. With a balanced forceful approach, they can be the partner in criminal cases.

For over 20 years, they have been guiding people through criminal lawsuits. They have experienced defending various high-profile cases, which adds to their credibility.

Bruce Engel, along with his associates, are members of the Defence Counsel Association of Ottawa as well as the County of Carlton Law Association. To add to this, his services are not limited in Ontario since he is also sought by clients in Quebec and New Brunswick.

They focus exclusively on criminal law and are present from the investigation through the arrest and trial for their clients. Some of the areas of their practice include impaired driving, sexual assault, and money laundering.

For accessibility, they are always available 24/7. Circumstances can happen at any time and we like that they can easily be contacted.


  • 24/7 available support
  • Experienced with hundreds of different cases
  • 3 lawyers who practice exclusively on criminal law


  • Closed on weekends

Customer Reviews

Here are some feedback from their previous clients:

“Excellent defense attorney!!!! Dismissed a possession with intent to sale change in a flash!! I had to see the judge only once, all the other work done behind the scene by the lawyers. Elena Davies is perfect Ottawa criminal lawyer. Very professional!!! Great service!!! Experienced and knowledgeable!!! thank you for your advice and help.” – G.E.

“My brother got into a legal issue when he discovered the dead body of his departmental store colleague after getting into the shop in the morning. As there was no other witness to the incident, he got stuck in the legal issue. A very efficient Ottawa criminal lawyer from Engel and Associates had been with us all along through the troubled situations and finally my brother managed to get free from the troubles caused to him due to a false stigma on his professional life. My entire family is thankful to the complete team of lawyers from Engel and Associates.” – M.H.

FAQs About Criminal Defense Lawyers in Ottawa

We hope that this listicle on the top criminal defense lawyer firms in Ottawa will prove to be a handy resource any time you need it.

Please let us know if you think we left out a criminal defense lawyer who’s worth a mention here by sending us a message!

And in case you need help with your immigration processing, we’ve written about the best immigration lawyer firms in Ottawa, as well.