Legal Aid is a government-funded program that provides those charged with a criminal offence with a certificate to be used to retain legal counsel of their choice. Eligibility for Legal Aid 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. Other factors such as whether the accused is a first-time offender and whether the accused has mental health issues are sometimes taken into consideration.
In order to apply for Legal Aid you will have to provide information about your charge(s) and financial documents. 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.
Ron Ellis is a Criminal Defence Lawyer working in London, Ontario. Ron Ellis Law would like to thank Kristen Thomas for her contributions to this blog.