Most of us have heard of “legal aid” but don’t really know what it is and how a person may qualify. The first thing you need to know is that Legal Aid is a government-funded program that provides those charged with a criminal offence with a “certificate” to be used to hire a lawyer of their choice. Some lawyers and law firms don’t accept legal aid cases so you may have to shop around to find the lawyer you feel would best represent you.
What are Certificates?
This certificate is like a “voucher” for legal services. You can use it to “pay” for a lawyer to represent you for a certain number of hours. There are limits so you will need to ask to get the details. Certificates are one of a range of services that Legal Aid Ontario provides for its clients. To find out more click on http://www.legalaid.on.ca/en/getting/eligibility.asp
Who is eligible for Legal Aid in Ontario?
Eligibility is determined by a few factors. Eligibility is primarily determined based on income and whether there is a substantial probability of incarceration attached to your charge(s). The purpose of Legal Aid is to help accused persons with lower incomes retain legal counsel. There are other factors involved as well. Things like whether the accused is a first-time offender and whether the accused has mental health issues are also things that may be taken into consideration when an application for legal aid is made.
If you want to apply for Legal Aid you will have to provide information about your charge(s) and finances. What happens if your application is denied? If you are denied Legal Aid you can appeal the decision. If your appeal is denied, you may be able to have a Judge order an appointment of counsel if you meet certain criteria. An appointment of counsel requires Legal Aid to issue you a certificate.
Disclaimer: This article is the opinion of the writer and should not be seen as an authority on the subject matter contained herein. You should always consult a lawyer. This article is in no way the opinion of Castle –Trudel Criminal Lawyers.