Being charged with a crime, such as domestic assault, is often one of the most difficult and stressful events in a person's life. Most people never, or rarely, interact with the criminal justice system; when they find themselves charged with a criminal offence they are often left confused about what to do. The most important thing for someone facing a criminal charge is to be able to continue with their normal lives as much as possible while dealing with the charge.
While the criminal justice system in Canada allows individuals charged with a crime to defend themselves, there are often limitations on this. One of the benefits of hiring a lawyer to assist in your legal defence is that they can help in obtaining bail; or more simply, the release from jail following arrest. If you do not obtain bail, you will have to wait in jail until the charge has been dealt with, which for serious charges can be months or years. Being able to be released on bail allows a person to be able to continue with their lives as much as possible, allowing the least amount of intrusion into their daily lives.
Once a person is charged with a criminal offence there begins an administrative process of multiple court appearances before a trial date can even be set. A lawyer is able to attend court on your behalf, allowing you to continue without your life while waiting for the criminal charge to progress.
Recently a father was charged with various domestic assault charges including assault and criminal harassment. He spent over 2 years in jail awaiting his trial. At the end of his trial, he was found guilty and given a conditional discharge, meaning he will have no criminal record in the end. However, had he had a lawyer he would likely have been released on bail, could have resumed his life outside of jail while waiting trial, and would likely have achieved the same, or better, result without losing two years of his life.
Source: Cheapest dad in Ottawa says he's 'suffered a great loss' by Chris Cobb (Ottawa Citizen, January 31, 2014)
Miser dad dodges criminal record by Tony Spears (Ottawa Sun, February 5, 2014)