Do You Qualify for Ontario Legal Aid?
Take the free Ontario Legal Aid instant calculator to determine if you are eligible for a Legal Aid certificate for your criminal case.
- Alex O
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- Colin Bibaud
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How What is Legal Aid?
Who is eligible for Legal Aid in Ontario?
What services are provided by Legal Aid?
How do I apply for Legal Aid in Ontario?
What type of lawyer can I use?
Getting charged by the police is stressful
I think you’ll agree with me that getting a criminal charge by the police for a criminal charge is stressful.
And, It’s confusing
What makes it worse, there’s so much information online. It’s hard to find real answers.
A criminal conviction can destroy your ability to work.
The penalties for any criminal charge can be severe. Even a first-time conviction can be life-changing.
Criminal Code penalties can destroy your life. But, it doesn’t need to be that way.
How to fight this charge
In this post, I’m going to give the information you need to understand how to get access to Legal Aid in Ontario. Knowledge is power. Being informed puts you in a better position to fight this charge in order to get the best outcome possible.
Just a quick note before you dive into this post.
Yes, I’m providing really valuable information here. If I were in need of Legal Aid, this is the information that I would want to know. But to be clear, I am NOT giving you legal advice. Everyone’s case is different. If you want to speak with a lawyer about your case, give me (or any lawyer) a call. The call is free.
What is Legal Aid in Ontario?
Legal aid covers the defence of criminal charges that would likely result in jail time, such as assault, impaired driving causing bodily harm, robbery, welfare fraud, and break and enter. Legal aid also covers offences which will cause someone to lose their job immediately, be rejected from a planned educational program or be deported from the country, if there is a reasonable defence against the charge (legalline)
Who is eligible for Legal Aid in Ontario?
First, Legal Aid information on our site applies to individuals accused under the Criminal Code of Canada, in Ontario. This includes Domestic Assault charges. To qualify for legal aid in Ontario you must have little or no money left after you pay for basic necessities like food and housing. People on social assistance almost always qualify for legal aid. You may be eligible for legal aid even if you have some money in the bank or even if you own a home. Take the Legal Aid Calculator to find out if you qualify.
What Services are Provided by Legal Aid in Ontario?
Depending on your level of qualification, you may be entitled to Duty Counsel and summary legal advice. With full qualification, you will get access to representation by a lawyer for your case, with a full Legal Aid Certificate. A Legal Aid Certificate is a voucher that guarantees a private practice lawyer, who accepts your case will get paid for providing you with representation for a certain number of hours. Take the Legal Aid Calculator to find out if you qualify.
How do I apply for Legal Aid in Ontario?
First, Take the Legal Aid Calculator to find out if you qualify. Once you do this, we can direct you on how to apply for Legal Aid in Ontario. You can also visit Legal Aid Ontario for more information
What should I bring to apply for Legal Aid in Ontario?
When you go to the legal aid office, you should take as much information with you as possible. For example:
- Some form of identification (social insurance card, driver’s license, health card or landed immigrant papers)
- Any documents relating to your case, such as court orders, separation agreements, a copy of the crown screening form (for criminal charges)
- Proof of your current income if you have any (3-4 recent pay stubs, social assistance cheque stubs or Employment Insurance statements)
- Up to date bankbook or bank statements
- Proof of monthly expenses and bills (rent receipt or mortgage payment, hydro, gas, car payment receipts, credit card statements, car insurance bill)
- Deed for your house
- Proof of any unusual expenses (ie. medical costs).
What Happens after I apply for Legal Aid?
If you qualify for Legal Aid, you will have access to a Legal Aid Certificate with which you can hire a lawyer in Ontario that can represent you for a certain amount of hours in your criminal case. Our firm is happy to help direct you to the most qualified Legal Aid lawyer for your case.
Getting a Legal Aid Certificate
The certificate program allows eligible, low-income Ontarians to have full representation by a lawyer. Essentially, a certificate is a voucher guaranteeing that the lawyer will get paid for representing you for a certain number of hours (which is specified on the certificate).
Depending on your income, and whether you own property, you may qualify for a certificate with a contribution agreement. A contribution agreement would mean that you will repay Legal Aid Ontario, some or all of your legal fees.
Legal Aid may request monthly payments or lump sum payments. Legal Aid also has a right to recover the legal costs paid from any monies recovered in legal proceedings. Allow 5 working days for applications to be processed and 10 working days for the decision on the application to be mailed.
What type of lawyer can I use with my Legal Aid Certificate?
Not all lawyers accept legal aid work, so if you have a Legal Aid Certificate, you need to find a lawyer who takes legal aid cases.
There are many considerations when choosing a lawyer. You should try to find a lawyer who has experience with your kind of legal problem. It is important to note that not all lawyers handle every type of case. Many lawyers restrict their practice to a particular area of law and do not handle other types of legal work. For example, most real estate lawyers would not handle divorces. Before you look for a lawyer, it is a good idea to determine what type of legal issue you have, so that you know what type of lawyer you will need.
If English is not your first language, you should choose a lawyer who is fluent in your language and who will help you understand your choices.
How Do I Fight a criminal charge?
The most effective way to fight the charge is to hire an experienced lawyer. The results of your criminal charges rest with analyzing your disclosure or evidence, speaking with the prosecutor and determining the next steps. An experienced legal professional knows best how to navigate the complex court system to minimize the penalties for your charges.
How Does a criminal charge affect my ability to work?
An criminal charge is a very damaging conviction, resulting in a criminal record. For employers, this is a serious charge to have when applying to or trying to keep current employment.
How Long does a criminal charge stay on your record?
Generally, it will remain unless you apply for a pardon, and this could take years, decades, or more
How Do I Get criminal charges Dropped?
In order to get your charges dropped, there would have to be a fatal error in the province's disclosure or evidence. If this is the case, a legal professional would argue to have the charges dismissed.